Kono district descendants worldwide
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 April 2016
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.
The 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.
This 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): +email@example.com
Dr. Fuambai Sia Ahmadu (USA): +firstname.lastname@example.org
Tamba Gborie (UK): +email@example.com
Aiah Fanday (USA): +firstname.lastname@example.org