Kono descendants’ global protest against Octea mining in Sierra Leone  

Kono district descendants worldwide

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 April 2016  

Kono Diamond FB Cvr London

Kono district descendants in the diaspora are calling for a global demonstration this Saturday, 23rd April 2016, to protest against Tiffany & Co.’s financial partnership with the Octea Group – the sole owner of Koidu Holdings Ltd, for its gross injustice against the people of Kono, in the eastern district of Sierra Leone.

Octea is the largest diamond mining company in the country.  In a recent court ruling in Sierra Leone, the high court determined that Octea is not entitled to pay taxes because the parent company is not legally registered to do business in Sierra Leone. This is an absurdity and a travesty of justice.

Furthermore, the same court determined that Koidu Holdings, though mining its diamonds in the Kono District of Sierra Leone, is exempt from paying taxes to the local community.

This ruling is an egregious affront to the ordinary citizens of Sierra Leone, one of the poorest countries in the world; and, specifically to the long suffering multi-ethnic, indigenous peoples of Kono District, which is the least developed region in the country.

Koidu Holdings is headed by Jan Joubert, a South African mercenary from Executive Outcomes, who formed the company at the end of the protracted civil war in Sierra Leone.

SL rebel war victims5The then Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) allegedly promised payment to these fighters-for-hire with illicit “blood diamonds” from Kono, that had fuelled and funded both sides of the devastating war in our country.

Tiffany & Co., a prestigious international diamond retailer, has recently deferred a USD 50 million loan that it provided Octea/Koidu Holdings to initiate kimberlite mining, and is contracted to buy up to 60% of Octea/Koidu Holdings’ raw diamonds from the embattled region of Kono.

The Kono District Descendants Worldwide (KDDW) movement and Concerned Konos Inc. would like the world to know that many of the beautiful, shiny, encased rocks in the company’s luxury boutiques in first world cities are stolen, tax-free, “blood diamonds” from the soil of Kono and its impoverished people.

That a foreign based mining company wholly owned by an Israeli billionaire, Benny Steinmetz, can operate in collaboration with post-war mercenaries from South Africa without a license and tax-free, in one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, defies all national and international legal norms and ethics governing the global mining trade, as well as common sense.

Diamond miningThis court ruling in Sierra Leone exposes Tiffany & Co’s apparent complicity – whether intentional or not – in alleged official corruption, involving these mercenaries, Mr. Steinmetz and traditional authorities within Kono District who are the supposed custodians of our homeland, as well as the highest level of the government of Sierra Leone.

Join us on Saturday 23rd April 2016 in Chevy Chase Maryland; 5th Avenue New York City; Walnut St in Philadelphia; 400 Oxford Street & 145 Sloane Street in London, UK; to end Tiffany & Co.’s financing of suffering, exploitation and corruption within our indigenous communities and the environmental degradation of Koidu City.

On behalf of the indigenous peoples of Kono District, we aim to shut down Octea/Koidu Holding’s illegal mining of stolen diamonds once and for all in Sierra Leone.

For further information about these global wide protests, please contact:

Aiah Yornie Sodengbe (UK): +447904942268/asodengbe@hotmail.com

Dr. Fuambai Sia Ahmadu (USA): +12029040023/fahmadu@hotmail.com

Tamba Gborie (UK): +447506516063/tgborie@hotmail.com

Aiah Fanday (USA): +12408213641/fanday@aol.com

7 Comments

  1. Yes, Sia Nyandemo: It should be the mandatory duty of the Government to rise up to the occasion and see that justice is done to all Sierra Leoneans, including the people of Kono District.

    Majority of the people of Sierra Leone have not even seen a piece of diamond, rutile, bauxite, etc. which are very valuable mineral resources with tremendous global significance. However, until we have a God-fearing and development oriented Leader, everything will just stay the same or static with little progress, if any at all.

    That aside, illiteracy continues to be the order of the country with President Ernest Koroma now dubbed as “The Political Pele” without scoring any goal.

    And his Deputy Minister of Information, Sheka Tarawalie aka Shekito, wrote a piece this week on the need to have a Prime Minister instead of Vice President. But, he was quick to delete or take it down online. What a shame!

    The standard of education of the country is below expectation, with the dormitories at Fourah Bay College (FBC) totally dilapidated. And no clean running water on campus.

    I am very sure that sales of our own huge natural resources are far enough to refurbish the academic buildings without requesting financial assistance from donor agencies. But, due to corrupt practices, the Government chops off the money and then goes out begging as if poor.

    Remember that for well over a century, FBC was the only institution of higher learning in West Africa from 1827 to 1948. And it later became known as ‘The Athens of West Africa,’ with many Sierra Leoneans of today unable to tell where Athens is – Greece, Europe. The old FBC complex in downtown Freetown is left to crumble without being preserved. Wow!

    My advise is: Mr. President, with you being an alumnus of the University of Sierra Leone (USL), please PRIVATIZE the University and vacate being its Chancellor. It makes sense to PRIVATIZE USL. For nothing is going well under your leadership, except that you have not yet executed anybody in the country. Thank you very much for that.

    Please find below an extract from “10 African Minerals of Highest Economic Value” published on August 25, 2014. It says that Sierra Leone is among the top producers of diamonds in Africa, with virtually nothing to show for it. God help us! Amen.

    “3. Diamonds

    African countries greatly contribute to the world’s share of natural diamonds. It accounts for approximately 46% of the global production. The precious stone which features among the top 5 most valuable minerals has contributed to improved GDP and per Capita income in many regions. Top producers comprise of Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Botswana and DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). Botswana accounts for 22% while the DRC caters for 20% of the total output. “

  2. OCTEA mining have been making millions of dollars from their devastating mining operations, while local residents survive on less than one dollar a day. Their dubious activities have influenced local officials who amazingly keep silent over their operations.

    Their operations in Sierra Leone are mainly based in Kono District, but do not pay local taxes. This has created major resentment among the law-abiding local communities, who continues to honour their local taxes, despite the daunting challenges encountered on a daily basis.

    Their ground explosions and other mining works have resulted to forceful evacuation of local residents, destruction of local businesses, separation of families who find themselves in inadequate accommodation in serious environmental conditions and with health problems.

    Worst of all, there have been deaths either directly or indirectly connected to their mining activities. These deaths are yet to be investigated expeditiously.

    Tiffany & Co. have a major partnership with OCTEA mining and this relationship is of grave concern to us.

    International companies are expected to contribute to alleviate poverty in the world, and to promote respect for human rights, democracy, the peaceful coexistence of nations and the preservation of natural resources. In contrast, OCTEA mining have not seriously fulfilled their corporate social responsibilities.

    We are organising this peaceful demonstration against OCTEA/Tiffany & Co. to register our dissatisfaction with their operations in Sierra Leone, and particularly in Kono District. We believe concrete measures would save the livelihood of millions of Sierra Leoneans; save the exploitation of our natural resources for future generations, and stop illegal mining and stealing of diamonds in Sierra Leone.

    Our peaceful demonstration will surely alert Tiffany & Co.’s Board of Directors to the plight of our people in Sierra Leone, and this could affect their brand image, international reputation, and possible punitive measures for the untold miseries brought upon our people in Sierra Leone.

    Moreover, we intend to send a clear message to their customers that the beautiful and shiny diamonds sold in their shops are tax-free “blood diamonds” from Kono District in Sierra Leone.

    Mr. Aiah Sodengbe
    Mobile: +44790 494 2268
    Email: asodengbe@hotmail.com

  3. I don’t think this issue of illegal extraction of diamonds in Sierra Leone should be regionalized with names typical of the Kono people only, but instead nationalized for the effective protest participation of ALL the people of the country. For “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Aristotle.

    Just an observation. God bless you. Amen.

  4. It’s beyond absolute insanity for our Salone government to let these greedy fat cats exploit and get away with this type of crime.

    However, charity starts at home. Our government is corrupt and therefore what is happening in Kono is not surprising. I was born and raised in Kono, I and feel very sad and helpless. We must avert this unfortunate tragedy.

  5. The Steinmetz Group has long been associated with suspected war criminals. The Steinmetz Diamond Group, recently renamed Diacore, “adopted” a Unit of the notorious Givati Brigade of the Israeli military and funded and supported them during the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008/9.

    The Givati was responsible for the massacre of 29 members of the Samouni family in Gaza in January 2009 – a suspected war crime documented by UNHRC, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

    Tiffany’s are well aware of this direct linkage between BSGR and gross human rights violations by the Israeli military, but they continue to tell patrons their diamonds are ethically sourced and conflict-free. In February this year, Tiffany’s were suddenly dropped from the line of last weeks Responsible Business Summit in New York.

    Steinmetz refuses to pay taxes in Sierra Leone, but funds and supports suspected war criminals in Israel. Tiffany’s need to clean up their act – diamonds that fund gross human rights violations are blood diamonds.

    http://mondoweiss.net/2016/01/questions-raised-after-tiffanys-dropped-from-responsible-business-summit/

    • Well said Moustache Moustache. The question is, where is the rest of the of the nation? As it is only the people of Kono that are sticking their necks out.

      When the rest of the nation decides to take on this issue, trust me the people of Kono will be right there with them.

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