Eight members of NGO Diamonds for Peace (DFP) volunteers had worked on translating the book “Blood Diamond: Corruption and Torture in Angola” written by Rafael Marques de Morais, the Angolan journalist and human rights activist, into Japanese. DFP released Japanese version online.
Angola is situated in Southern Africa. It is the fourth biggest diamond producing country in the world. This book describes the human right violation cases such as violence, tortures, and murder in two north eastern provinces of Angola with high diamond yield. Testimonies by the victims and witnesses substantiate what the book describes.
Angolan high ranking military officials and the security companies, whom Rafael claimed as main culprits of those cases, sued him for defamation. The Angolan court sentenced him six months suspended jail term.
Rafael contributed the preface at the publication of Japanese translation as follows:
“Dear reader, it was a surprise to me that a Japanese organization would take an interest in publishing a book which is essentially a human rights report about murder, torture and innumerous human rights abuses in a village in Angola. I know that diamonds are highly appreciated in Japan and this village is extremely rich in these precious stones, many of which find their way into the Japanese jewelry market. I am often struck that I have been able to get the attention of many people abroad not necessarily because of the suffering of those on the ground, but because their suffering might stain the diamonds, those much appreciated stones the world over. However, this book is not ultimately an account of diamonds, but of people and the abuses they have experienced. That there is interest in learning of these people’s so far away from Angola both surprises and inspires me.
My surprise, however, has much to do with the interest shown in having a Japanese translation of the book when compared to the inability of many of my own people to grasp the paradox of having a land so rich in natural resources and yet being unable to understand that the human being is the most valuable and significant resource a country can have. At times, I have felt depressed and frustrated dealing with such an intractable situation, where people were not only dying because of the diamonds, but, most importantly, because their own government treated them as subhuman. That violence, although much more pronounced in the diamond areas, can be witnessed daily in the acts of the armed forces, police, state security apparatus and those powerful members of the country’s ruling party. My point of contention has always been: Why can we, Angolans, in our own country, not find among ourselves the strength and common purpose, the respect for each other, for humans, and for what the land offers, strive for sustainable human development and a better society?
When you read this book, know that I am grateful that you are paying attention to the subject. However, when reading this, do not simply think about the diamonds being tainted with the blood of those villagers. Do not think about what is “wrong” with the people. Rather, pay attention to those who, under the most trying circumstances, lift themselves up to take a stand for humanity, to have their voices heard in circumstances where people are abused and leaders are little more than criminals. The witnesses and survivors who share their stories are people of great courage and resilience. You will find in their words a call for justice to be done.
This report helped to remove the main security company responsible for the abuses from the area, but the generals remain latched onto the diamond companies. They continue to extract and put in place new private security companies which, although on a much smaller scale, remains abusive. The misfortunes and disenfranchisement of the locals continues. In this municipality, the richest in alluvial diamonds in Angola, there is no functioning morgue, no electricity from the grid, and no higher educational institutions. The villages do not have schools or clean water. What has helped to reduce the violence is the attention the book received internationally. Those in Japan who are interested in human rights issues can also contribute to this by paying attention and raising awareness of the political situation in Angola, and especially the country’s diamond regions.
In 2015, I was charged and convicted for lodging a criminal complaint against the generals who were responsible for, and the main beneficiaries of, the violence meted out against the inhabitants of the diamond areas. Despite the book not being the subject of the trial, the judge banned me from publishing it, wanted me to remove all online references to the book, and went even further to demand its recall. When, then, I was asked by Diamonds for Peace to have the book translated into Japanese, I resisted. I did not see the point of having the issue taken so far away, where, I erroneously thought, no one would care. Yet, I came to my senses. I saw that this translation offered another opportunity for defiance, to tell the generals and all those who want to silence human rights defenders that our voices cannot be suppressed. This book is proof that no trial, no conviction, will strike fear in us. On the contrary, it is an opportunity to reenergize the call for respect for human rights and dignity in Angola.”
You can download the Japanese version of the book from the below URL
Blood Diamond: Corruption and Torture in Angola
Author: Rafael Marques de Morais
Editorial Supervisor: Diamonds for Peace
Translation Supervisor: Masahiro Nakajima
You can download the English version of the book from the below URL:
Front Photo: The Artisanal Diamond Mining in Angola. Photo contribution by Rafael Marques de Morais 2017