Today there was a webchat hosted by the US Chair of the Kimberley Process (KP) Gillian Milovanovic, billed as an opportunity for the public to become familiarised with the KP, to “Learn about what it is and what it means.” Human rights activists concerned by the anomaly in the KP whereby cut and polished diamonds which fund human rights abuses are able to evade the process and can be sold to unsuspecting consumers as “conflict free” tried to join the discussion. People were specifically concerned with Israeli Blood Diamonds being outside the KP and therefore being available on the market despite providing a major source of funding for the Israeli military which stands accused of war crimes by the UN Human Rights Council.
Last month over twenty human rights group issued a statement calling on the Kimberley Process to ban the trade in diamonds from Israel. Human rights groups believe that if jewellers continue profiteering from and facilitating the trade in Israeli blood diamonds they will cause irreparable damage the diamond brand image which consumers are increasingly associating with bloodshed and war crimes.
Although ‘everyone’ was invited to join the discussion on the live webchat and on twitter, it soon became clear that those with questions about Israeli Blood Diamonds were not welcome to the conversation. Initially a few questions got through and were displayed on the ticker but not answered and then they stopped being loaded and instead spent upwards of twenty minutes “awaiting moderation.” Finally, the webchat was ended fifteen minutes early, due no doubt to embarrassment at the process being exposed as a charade. For while they could censor our questions, they couldn’t censor twitter and tweets were flying up the ticker on the side with the #IsraeliBloodDiamonds tag, decrying the censorship and sham.
As the organiser of this action, Seán Clinton, said: “You can be sure that many of the movers and shakers in the global diamond industry were following the discussion from the sideline – if they didn’t know before this that Israeli Blood Diamonds are an issue they do now.”
Here’s a selection of the tweets to the KP Chair. Click on images to enlarge.
Later some of those involved in the censored discussion commented on the CO.NX Facebook pager, to which they gave this implausible response: “CO.NX Thank you to everyone who participated in today’s webchat with Kimberley Process Chair Ambassador Milovanovic. We realize that there were a number of questions that we did not have a chance to answer, and we encourage you to visit the Kimberley Process website (http://www.kimberleyprocess.com/) for detailed information on the scope and purpose of the initiative.”
Here are some of the responses to this:
For more information about Israeli Blood Diamonds read here.