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De Beers foes launch Web boycott drive

December 16, 2006

Critics of diamond producer De Beers have launched a new website urging a boycott of the company's diamonds.

The site, at www.boycottdebeers.com, asks visitors to "join us in boycotting De Beers and their conflict diamonds." The site takes issue with treatment of the Bushmen of the Kalahari, indigenous people who the site says were evicted after diamonds were discovered on their land in Botswana.

De Beers and the government of Botswana are partnered in a company called Debswana, which produces most of the country's diamonds.

In the "take action section," the site asks visitors to sign a petition, join future international protests or order a free "Boycott De Beers" sticker.

De Beers previously has denied mining on the land formerly occupied by the Bushmen, and a spokesman for the company said Friday that "De Beers is aware of the website in question and finds it both unfortunate and unconstructive that the facts continue to be misrepresented. We were pleased that the High Court of Botswana unanimously agreed and explicitly stated that diamonds played no role in the dispute between the First People of the Kalahari and the government."

In a full-page ad that ran in Variety earlier this month, the Bushmen again appealed to Leonardo DiCaprio, the star of "Blood Diamond," who has been outspoken about conflict diamonds.

The ad, also signed by the human rights organization Survival International, said they asked for DiCaprio's support because "we think people will listen to you because you are famous and respected."

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Valli Herman

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