Diamonds are symbols of wealth, elegance and love around the world. But in several African nations, they have been a means to power, a reason to terrorize millions of innocent civilians, and may have even helped finance some of the world’s most brutal terrorists. The human cost of the illicit global diamond trade is examined in the provocative documentary.
Because they are portable, easily concealed, and untraceable, diamonds lend themselves to smuggling and corruption. In several underdeveloped African nations, warlords have used diamonds to help finance wars, while the rest of the world has turned a blind eye. Rebel armies have forced tens of thousands of people to mine diamonds in brutal, dangerous conditions under the threat of death, their pay as paltry as a cup of rice per day. In Sierra Leone, rebels chopped off people’s hands, arms, feet, lips, and ears indiscriminately for years during a civil war financed in part by the trade of illicit diamonds.
BLOOD DIAMONDS looks to some of the world’s foremost experts for the facts of the history of the diamond trade, and goes to the heart of the matter, interviewing both the victims and perpetrators of diamond-fueled atrocities in countries like Sierra Leone. One such victim is Usman Conteh. Captured by rebels in Sierra Leone’s Kono district, Usman was forced to mine diamonds for rebels – diamonds the rebels then sold or traded for arms. After months in captivity, Usman escaped only to find rebels had murdered his family.
The documentary explores the factors that led to the violence, tells the vivid details of the suffering, and speaks with the organizations that eventually exposed the link between diamonds and several brutal African conflicts. BLOOD DIAMONDS also looks at the steps eventually taken by advocacy organizations and the diamond industry to combat the problem.