(Rapaport…October 6, 2000) Congressman Tony Hall (D-Ohio) and human rights activists Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) will be participating in a protest on Saturday, October 7, 2000, along Fifth Avenue in New York City. According to the organizers, the protest is geared toward highlighting the role American consumers may be unknowingly laying in funding some African wars.
The protest, which will focus on distributing leaflets to consumers, will begin at Liberty Fountain on 5th Avenue and 59th Street, at 11:30 AM. From there participants will proceed to Cartier to hold a press conference and distribute educational flyers on conflict diamonds.
There are eight Sierra Leonean amputees (two adults and six children), victims of the country’s brutal civil war, receiving medical attention and being fit for prosthesis at Staten Island University Hospital in New York.
A staff member of Congressman Hall’s office explained that when the congressman learned that the children were in the U.S., the timing was right to hold this event — one that Hall had intended to hold for a while.
Congressman Hall will speak at the press conference along with Muctar Jalloh (representative of the child amputees); Members of Sierra Leone support group based in the U.S.; and Adotei Akwei, AIUSA representative.
Hall takes a harsh stand on the issue and says: “We’ve heard a lot of pretty words from diamonds merchants. While I’m pleased that a global certification regime is in the works, they are still underwriting the butchers in Sierra Leone, Angola and the Congo – and they are actively working to kill any responsible congressional response to this sad situation.
“American consumers will be horrified that the money they spend on baubles that signify love and commitment to them – in fact paid for a campaign of terror against innocent civilians, democracy and UN peacekeepers in Africa. This is one situation we could stop immediately; instead every passing day is earning rebels another $37 million from the sale of stolen diamonds.”
Amnesty International says this effort is geared primarily to alert consumers about the dangers of conflict diamonds and to encourage individuals to demand immediate action from congressional leadership.
Depending on the success of this first event, both Congressman Hall and Amnesty International will proceed with other events throughout the holiday season.