Two global diamond retailers resort to censorship over Israeli Blood Diamonds issue
NASDAQ listed company with European HQ in Dublin blocks Facebook queries on human rights
Two of the world’s leading diamond retailers have resorted to censorship rather than answering questions about the provenance of their so-called conflict free diamonds.
Brilliant Earth and Blue Nile two of the world's leading online diamond retailers, both proclaim their diamonds are guaranteed conflict free and from ethical sources. Blue Nile is a publicly quoted company on the NASDAQ with its European Headquarters in Dublin. Both companies have over 80,000 subscribers to their Facebook pages. When subscribers to these pages posted questions asking if any of their conflict free diamonds were crafted in Israel - the world’s leading diamond exporter and a serial human rights abuser - the companies deleted the posts and failed to respond to the queries. As more people posted similar questions both companies deleted all the posts and blocked those who posted the questions.
When others posted new threads, Blue Nile took an extraordinary decision for an online retailer and altered its portal to prevent subscribers posting new threads. Having maintained this block for a number of days, last Thursday November 4th, the company reinstated the facility. However, when people once more asked the Blue Nile to clarify whether or not they were selling diamonds crafted in Israel as conflict free diamonds, the company again deleted the posts and reinstated the block on subscribers posting new threads.
All of this comes at a time of plummeting public confidence in the effectiveness of the Kimberley Process (KP) Certification Scheme - the global body set up to eliminate the trade in diamonds that fund human rights abuses, commonly referred to as blood diamonds. The KP adopted an extremely narrow definition of a conflict or blood diamond – “rough diamonds used by rebel groups or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments." As a result, diamonds that fund war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by government forces are not classed as “conflict diamonds” and these blood diamonds are being sold by jewellers the world over, including here in Ireland. Not only that, they are embellished with the title “conflict free” and unsuspecting consumers have no idea they are being sold de-facto blood diamonds.
This July the KP agreed to the export of diamonds from Zimbabwe where NGOs documented severe human rights abuses by government forces. According to the KP definition, the diamonds produced cannot be classed as blood diamonds as the crimes were committed by state actors, not rebels.
Freda Hughes, IPSC National Chairperson said, "In 2008 Israel ‘s diamond exports were over 1,200 times that of Zimbabwe’s. Despite the fact that revenue from the Israeli diamond industry funds war crimes and crimes against humanity, diamonds crafted in Israel avoid the strictures of the Kimberley Process simply because they are polished – not rough - diamonds, and the crimes they are funding are carried out by government forces and not rebels. The KP is caught in a bind of its own making as to include human rights abuses by states in the definition of a conflict diamond would result in Israel's burgeoning diamond exports being classed as conflict diamonds and banned. "
Ms. Hughes continued, "Israel has been found guilty of war crimes by two separate UN investigations in the last two years. Following both its assault on Gaza in 2008/2009 that left over 1,400 people dead including over 300 children, and the murderous attack on the Freedom Flotilla earlier this year that resulted in the death of nine humanitarian workers bringing aid to the besieged people of Gaza, UN bodies produced exhaustive reports documenting Israeli war crimes and breaches of international law.”
Ms. Hughes concluded, "Unless diamonds are laser inscribed to identify where they were crafted, diamonds crafted in Israel can not be distinguished from diamonds crafted in countries that respect human rights and international law. The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign is spearheading a global initiative to expose the clandestine trade in Israeli blood diamonds and calling for an urgent review of the Kimberley Process definition of a conflict or blood diamond so that it includes all diamonds that funds human rights abuses and not just rough diamonds used by rebels. "
The IPSC has written to the Retail Jewellers in Ireland asking them to support the call for an urgent review for the Kimberley Process so that all diamonds that fund human rights abuses are classified as conflict diamonds, and for the introduction of a laser hallmarking system that will enable consumers to know where a diamond was crafted and provide them with the opportunity to choose a truly conflict-free diamond.