After spending a great portion of Thursday afternoon reading Partnership Africa Canada's (PAC) report entitled "Diamonds and Human Security Annual Review 2008," I have a new perspective on the perceived "problems" that exist in my life.


Generally, when I get an e-mail with a 24-page attachment, I am not too thrilled at the prospect of reading it, especially after spending the majority of Wednesday night tossing and turning in bed, barely sleeping because I couldn't stop thinking about the economy and my own financial messiness (which is 99 percent my fault anyway).


But, once I picked up this report, I couldn't put it down.


The report provided fascinating insight into what really goes on in some of the world's diamond-producing nations, beyond the scope of the Kimberley Process, which was put in place to stop the trade of conflict diamonds.


The report gives a detailed account of the conditions affecting miners, human rights, corruption and the living and working conditions of the people in 13 diamond-producing nations around the world.


Two of the more horrific accounts came from the African nation of Angola, a country nearly twice the size of Texas located on the southwestern African coast, just above Namibia.


The first story presented in the PAC reported detailed the alleged murder of diamond miner Belito Mendes, who was badly beaten and later died of his injuries after being stopped by Angolan police and searched for diamonds.


Though Mendes didn't actually have any diamonds on him, he did have the equivalent of $17.50 in cash and allegedly was beaten to death after refusing to hand his money over to police.


Such incidents, according to the report, are "hardly the exception" in Angola's diamond-bearing provinces of Lunda Norte and Lunda Sol, where being a diamond miner often is a dangerous occupation.


The other story included in the report from Angola details the plight of Congolese refugees who flee to Angola and begin working as artisanal diamond miners. The refugees are, indeed, in Angola illegally. But, when discovered by Angolan authorities, they aren't merely arrested or asked to leave. Instead, according to the report, they are often robbed of all they have, and many women are raped.


The report tells the tale of one man who was robbed of his spare clothes, a radio and $600 before being forced to walk back to the Congo, leaving his wife and child behind. Upon his return to the Congo, he was eventually reunited with his wife, but the reunion was one that was "bittersweet"—he discovered that Angolan border guards had repeatedly raped his wife.


The report makes a good point in that, while it's not wrong for Angolan law enforcement to apprehend those in the country illegally, it is wrong to rob them of all they have, and rape their women.


The report is available here: http://www.pacweb.org/e/images/stories/documents/ar_diamonds_2008_eng.pdf


But I warn you: Don't click on this link unless you have some free time. Once you start reading it, you won't stop. And, when you finish reading it, you'll spend the next couple of hours reflecting on how terrible conditions really are for so many people in the world, and how good you really have it. I know I did.



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