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Human Rights Groups Protest at Graff, Leviev Diamond Stores

Feb 9, 2009 11:58 AM   By Avi Krawitz
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RAPAPORT... Two of the diamond industry’s premier luxury retailers, Graff Diamonds and Leviev, are facing protests this week outside their respective flagship locations, though for vastly different reasons. Survival International will hold a protest outside Graff Diamonds' London store on Tuesday, calling on Laurence Graff to use his interest in Gem Diamonds to have the mining company withdraw from its controversial Gope diamond mine development in Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Graff recently bought a 9 percent stake in Gem Diamonds. 

The human rights group said the mine being planned on the land of the Kalahari Bushmen, is causing severe water shortages. Gem Diamonds insists that it has consistently engaged in dialogue with the Bushmen regarding the mine. Survival maintains, however, that the Bushmen have had no independent advice on the probable impact of the mine, and so their acquiescence was obtained in bad faith. In November, the Botswana government approved an environmental impact assessment (EIA) study for the development of the Gope mine, allowing Gem Diamonds to start negotiations for a mining license on the site.

Survival has contacted celebrities who are known to wear Graff diamonds, such as Victoria Beckham, Naomi Campbell and Elizabeth Hurley, and asked them to stop wearing the jewels. The group is also focusing on the Oscars, attempting to prevent celebrities from wearing Graff diamonds there, it said in a statement. A similar campaign was leveled against De Beers, the mine’s previous owner.

Meanwhile, Palestinian rights activist group Adalah New York continued its campaign against Lev Leviev, calling for a Valentine’s Day boycott of Leviev's jewelry to protest his alleged involvement in Israeli settlements. The last protest, held on February 7, 2009, was the 13th demonstration outside Leviev’s New York store on Madison Avenue.

Adalah claims that Leviev's companies have been building housing units on Palestinian land in such settlements as Mattityahu East, Zufim, Har Homa and Ma'ale Adumim. Leviev previously dismissed the protests, saying that the claims against his companies "tend towards antisemitic accusations." The protests, Leviev told Rapaport News in February 2008, "are clearly aimed at Israel and not at one particular company.”

Tags: De Beers, Gem Diamonds, Government, Graff, Israel, Jewelry, Leviev
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Human Rights are Human Rights Everywhere
Feb 10, 2009 7:40AM    By Adalah-NY
We actually see many similarities between our campaign against Leviev and Survival International's campaign against Graff. We are both working to prevent people from being evicted from their land by a large corporation. We are both challenging human rights abuse. In Angola, villages in the provinces near Leviev's diamond mines have suffered horrific abuses at the hands of his security forces.

Also, Leviev's settlement construction is more than alleged. He has admitted to such construction in interviews with Ha'aretz:
(see his comment near the end)
and is the co-owner of LIDAR, a group contracted to build settlements.

We reject any claim of anti-semitism in our charges. We are Jews and Arabs, and other New Yorkers, united, who are challenging Leviev to respect the standard of international law and human rights.
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