A coalition of more than 50 human rights groups, led by Amnesty International
and several others, held a press conference on Valentine's Day to announce
"The Campaign to Eliminate Conflict Diamonds." The campaign is directed at
consumers. The key elements of the campaign can be viewed online at
Among the campaign's components is an online video imitating the De Beers'
"Shadows" ad campaign, but calling consumers' attention to conflict diamonds
instead. As one hand starts to slip a diamond ring on another hand, the scene
changes and becomes shadowy figures who ultimately cut off the hand
of a prisoner, in graphic reference to the worst of human rights abuses
committed in Sierra Leone in the fight over control of diamonds there.
AI encourages a grass roots effort to get the word out about conflict
diamonds. Its plan includes contacting local newspapers, posting
fliers and encouraging towns and
cities to hold a "Day Without Diamonds" to show solidarity with the Sierra
Leoneans who have lost lives or limbs in the conflict. In a longer article,
AI stresses its aim isn't to precipitate a
consumer boycott of all diamonds, "as the diamond trade from rebel-held areas
of Sierra Leone forms only a small percentage of the overall worldwide
trade." However, its Web site's most graphic features might suggest otherwise to consumers
who view them.
Instead of a boycott of diamonds, AI urges consumers to support Rep. Tony
Hall's (D-OH) proposed legislation, The Clean Diamonds Act, which Hall
announced at the same press conference. In a sample
letter to be sent to congressional representatives, AI states: "The Clean
Diamonds Act is the only legislation that fully addresses all of the issues
needed to prevent American consumers from unknowingly purchasing a blood
diamond. There will be efforts by the diamond industry to introduce
alternative legislation, but we urge you to support the Clean Diamond Act as
the only bill that will close all loopholes." But a comparison of Hall's proposed bill and the diamond industry's draft
legislation, introduced last month by the World Diamond Council in London,
shows that, in fact, the bills are nearly identical (see related story), at
least in their current draft forms.
- by Peggy Jo Donahue