Thursday, May 10, 2012

Botswana: Bushmen’s fear as Botswana’s security forces return to the Kalahari

Source: Survival International

Botswana’s security forces are arresting and intimidating Bushmen, despite the tribe’s legal right to live and hunt in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).

Survival International has received several reports that a large group of police officers have set up a permanent camp close to the community of Metsiamenong, which famously resisted Botswana’s brutal evictions.

So far police have made at least 5 arrests after finding hunted meat in the community. No charges have been brought so far. Soliders and paramilitary police are also reported to be in the reserve.

Whilst the Bushmen are legally allowed to hunt inside the reserve, the government has made it impossible by unlawfully refusing to issue a single hunting permit.

One Bushman living inside the reserve said, ‘Since the arrests, the lives of the Bushman have changed significantly. The government has sent in armed forces to intimidate us, making our lives very difficult. We depend on the natural resources of the CKGR for our food. How are we expected to survive if we cannot hunt?’

Botswana’s High Court upheld the Bushmen’s rights to their land in 2006 after a long legal battle, but it wasn’t until 2011 that they won the right to access water.

Government officials had sealed the tribe’s well in an effort to drive them from the reserve, resulting in the death of at least one tribeswoman close to Metsiamenong.

Survival International’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘We are extremely concerned by reports that Botswana’s security forces have set up a camp close to Metsiamenong. This is a clear attempt to intimidate and undermine the human rights the Bushmen battled to save. It will not succeed.’