Blood Diamonds   is a new film that tells the harrowing tale of the civil war in Sierra Leone by “insurgents” whose war was funded  by mining diamonds.

The film explores the terrible civil war in Sierra Leone, which was funded by forcing local villagers to work as slaves in the diamond minds, while kidnapping and training children as soldiers. That war was famous for one other atrocity. As the BBC laconically observes  “A lasting feature of the war, which left some 50,000 dead, was the atrocities committed by the rebels, whose trademark was to hack off the hands of their victims.”

The Timeline for the war is found here:LINK

A UN tribunal  will be trying the worst of those responsible for the atrocities, including Charles Taylor , the ex president of nearby Liberia, who was implicated as encouraging the war. And, as if to publicize the movie, “Chuckie” Taylor , the son of Charles Taylor has just been indicted in Miami for torture.

Alas, if the review is correct, it also has the cliches: a wicked white diamond merchant and a beautiful white reporter who has a romance with him. However, if the film familiarizes Americans with what is going on in Africa, including the work of the UN in stopping such murderous civil wars, it will be money well spent by Hollywood.

One of the unwanted “side effects” of the film is the possibility that people will confuse the blood diamond trade that has fueled civil wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Congo with the legal and lucrative diamond trade mainly out of South Africa.

In the 1990’s between 4 and 15% of diamonds sold were from such illegal sources. Thanks to the “Kimberly process”  that closely monitors the diamond trade since in 2002, the number is now estimated to be less than 1%.

It would be ashamed if the film led to a decrease in the diamond trade and in the loss of jobs by thousands of well paid diamond miners in South Africa.
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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician who lives with her husband in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket , and she sometimes posts about Zimbabwe in MugabeMakaipa Blog . She worked as a physician in Liberia from 1979-1980.

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