By: Valerie Wong, Grade 11
Deriving from the Greek word adámas which means unbreakable, diamonds are the hardest natural substance in the world. Not only do they hold much use for industrial purposes (ex. Diamond coating), but they are also beautiful gemstones. People save up for months to buy the perfect diamonds with perfect cut, colour and clarity. As we empty our wallets, we don’t know whose lives were lost in order to harvest our gemstones.
There is blood on our fingers, blood on our necks. Blood trickles from our wrists, and blood drips from our earlobes. It’s ridiculous how we, in developed countries, sit almost completely unaware of the blood that was shed for the diamonds we wear so casually. The term ‘blood diamond’ refers to the diamonds mined and their profit used in war; in funding warfare by purchasing diamonds. Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe currently hold high place in the world’s top diamond suppliers.
Where there is money, there is always inevitable conflict. Feuds over diamond territory have become absolutely horrific. Sierra Leone, a country that ranks 2nd lowest on the Human Development Index, is victim to violence that has swelled out of control. Quarrels over the mismanagement of resources, including diamonds, prompted the creation of the Revolutionary United Front. The RUF were guilty of committing such atrocities as rape and amputation. Young children were forced into battle, and others were beaten either to the point of death or mental retardation. After the 11-year-long conflict in Sierra Leone was declared over, the Revolutionary United Front became a political party that was eventually dissolved in 2007.
There have been attempts to stop the issue of blood diamonds. The United Nations General Assembly adopted an agenda on December 1st, 2000. In doing so, they realized the role of diamonds in the conflict in African countries. To further counteract the issue, the UN also put an 18-month ban on diamond exports from Sierra Leone in the same year. This was done in hopes to put an end to the funding of the Revolutionary United Front, as their main source of income was from the sale of blood diamonds. Following the ban on illegal diamond exports, money that flows into Sierra Leone is not spent on funding of war but rather, it is spent on national expenses such as infrastructure, etc. However, even with these regulations, illegal export continues to slip through the cracks. We can never be too sure.
During a romantic, candlelit dinner, a man gets down on one knee to propose to his girlfriend, a velvet box in his trembling hand. He has saved up for many months in order to buy the sparkling diamond ring inside – his only hope is that she’ll say yes.
In a far away land, A child, not even 18-years-old, gets down on his knees, the point of a gun stabbing into his back. He’s told to stay still and shut up. If he moves so much as one finger, they’ll shoot him.
Though colourless, blood diamonds receive their name for the blood that was shed in undeserved violence. The pressure of society tells us to pile on the bling. We’re told to do so without thinking of the consequences, or the history of violence behind the mining of the little sparkling rocks. The lives that were lost or ruined deserve more respect than that, don’t you think?