Monday, August 9, 2010

The tyrant, the super model and the blood diamonds

“Ms Campbell's testimony reminds us of the damage that can be done by power-hungry individuals who illegally exploit their country's natural resource wealth to wage campaigns of violence and brutality against civilians. The Taylor trial is an important moment in the history of international justice, when the survivors of his regime may finally see some reparation.” Oliver Courtney, Global Witness spokesperson.

Naomi Campbell & Charles Taylor

Charles Taylor has been described by Spiegel Online as part of the "Slaughterers' Society" of African dictators. A society in which members feed opponents to crocodiles, hack their feet off, and allow their people to starve. Supermodel Naomi Campbell over dinner flirted with "President" Taylor and enjoyed his company. Then again she's also enjoyed the company of dictators in other continents and said so proudly. For example, back in 1998 Naomi Cambpell described Fidel Castro as an "inspiration" and meeting him as "very spiritual." She's also hung out with Castro's disciple Hugo Chavez. describing him as a "rebel angel" that poses "no threat to democracy." Now it seems that her encounter with another tyrant she met in 1997 Liberia's Charles Taylor is coming back to haunt the supermodel.

Charles Taylor is now on trial for war crimes committed while he was president of Liberia. Ms. Campbell has testified denying that she knew that the former Liberian president and mass murderer Charles Taylor had sent her blood diamonds. Now other witnesses, among them her friend Mia Farrow and Carole White, her former agent are now contradicting her testimony.

"As we were eating, Naomi leaned back and Charles Taylor leaned forward, and Naomi was very excited and told me he was going to give her some diamonds." - Carole White
Whereas, Naomi Campbell only flirted with an alleged war criminal over dinner and later received contraband diamonds as a gift . Fidel Castro was also closely involved in a working relationship with the convicted genocidal war criminal former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, now a fugitive hiding out with another of Castro ally Zimbabwe's brutal Robert Mugabe, and sent thousand of Cuban troops to assist in killing Ethiopians and spreading terror.
Hopefully one day the world will demand that Fidel Castro answer for that relationship and the Ethiopians murdered with his assistance.

At the same time one cannot underestimate the seriousness of blood diamonds and what they signify. Blood or conflict diamonds are subject to an international sanctions regimen that aims to undercut a funding source for armed conflicts in Africa. A more detailed description is provided by the Security Council Affairs Division which is part of the United Nations and based out of New York which states:
On 1 December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted, unanimously, a resolution on the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict, breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict, as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflicts (A/RES/55/56). In taking up this agenda item, the General Assembly recognized that conflict diamonds are a crucial factor in prolonging brutal wars in parts of Africa, and underscored that legitimate diamonds contribute to prosperity and development elsewhere on the continent.

The story is still developing, and offers an insight into the relationship between economic sanctions and attempting to improve the human rights situation in a regional context. Below on the Colbert Report, although humorous, makes a serious point about human rights and economic interests looking at business practices in China followed by the Naomi Campbell controversy.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Tip/Wag - Foxconn, Charles Taylor & Naomi Campbell
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Join the group to boycott supermodel Naomi Campbell

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