Saturday, August 31, 2013

Botswana: Ranyane Bushmen of Botswana Continue to Struggle to Live in Peace on Their Land

Source: Voice of America

Kim Lewis
Survival International, the human rights organization that campaigns for the rights of indigenous tribal peoples, said it has obtained detailed plans regarding the forced eviction of the Ranyane Bushmen from their ancestral homeland in western Botswana. The reported plans – if true -- fly in the face of a recent high court order prohibiting their forced eviction.

The group said the current plans to evict the Ranyane Bushmen bear striking similarities to the evictions of the Bushmen of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) between 1997 and 2002.

Rachel Stenham is a campaigner for Survival International.

“Survival has just released a document that was released in Botswana in one of the newspapers there, showing that the local council, the Ghanzi District Council had indeed planned the eviction process. And they had planned to cut off their water supply to the borehole and had planned to cut off all the amenities and all of the support system that was in place for the Ranyane Bushmen,” she explained.

The activist noted the evictions were to take place in August, but after Survival released the report, government officials denied having anything to do with the plan, and that the Ghanzi District Council was planning on carrying out the plan without their knowledge.

Survival said the government’s assurance that they will not carry out the forced evictions is a success for the Bushmen, at least for now.

But Stenham warns even without forced evictions, the Bushmen continue to suffer hardships.

“There’s no access to water at the moment. Their borehole broke down and they are waiting for that to be fixed. There is a lack of support from the government for other amenities,” she laments.

Stenham says it’s possible the government will do to the Ranyane Bushmen what they’ve been doing in the CKGR, where they basically provide them with no services, and force them out in a different way.

The reporter for this piece made several attempts to reach the government of Botswana, including the Ghanzi district council. As of this writing, there has been no response.