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De Beers Dropped From Environmental Award Following Protest, Is Hypocritically Reinstated One Week Later
3 March 2020
Inminds protest outside Positive Luxury offices in London, 21st Feb 2020
De Beers was spectacularly dropped from the shortlist of Positive Luxury's 'Positive Environmental Impact' award 2020, and its Forevermark diamond brand stripped from the coveted sustainability list of "Butterfly Mark" holders after Inminds Human Rights Group protested outside Positive Luxury's offices in London, accompanied by a sustained social media campaign. But one week later Positive Luxury, in full knowledge of De Beers complicity in human rights abuses, hypocritically reinstated De Beers and its Forevermark.
The protest accused Positive Luxury of greenwashing De Beers litany of human rights abuses.
Inminds chair Abbas Ali said "De Beers from its inception till today is a company seeped in human rights abuses. They are responsible for the genocide and enslavement of black Africans in Southern Africa; they laid the foundations of apartheid in South Africa; and were the primary pillar holding the apartheid regime up when other corporations fled under the pressure of the anti-apartheid movement; and today their diamonds are helping sustain apartheid in Palestine, where they are fully complicit in Israel's war crimes against the Palestinian people. The Butterfly Mark is suppose to signify 'a trusted brand which is committed to having a positive impact on people and the planet.' We ask Positive Luxury, don't Palestinian lives matter, that the Butterfly Mark can ignore their subjugation and slaughter?"
The protest on Friday 21st February 2020 had two demands of Positive Luxury:
1. De Beers be removed from the shortlist for the 'Positive Environmental Impact' award 2020 which was being held by Positive Luxury on Tuesday 25th February 2020.
2. Strip De Beers Forevermark diamond brand of the prestigious Butterfly Mark which it has held since 2016.
By Tuesday 25th February 2020, the day of the awards ceremony, Positive Luxury seemed to have met both demands. It removed De Beers from the shortlist for Positive Environmental Impact' award 2020 on their website. And it also removed De Beer's Forevermark diamond brand from the list of Butterfly Mark holders on its website, deleting the page dedicated to Forevermark. This eliminated the necessity to protest their awards ceremony that evening.
De Beers removed from shortlist for Positive Environmental Impact award 2020
De Beers Forevermark brand removed from the list of Butterfly Mark holders
De Beers Forevermark Butterfly Mark page deleted
Tweet Positive Luxury CEO Diana Verde Nieto complained about
However, repeated emails to Positive Luxury asking to formally confirm that De Beers had been dropped from the awards and Forevermark stripped of its Butterfly Mark went unanswered.
In a phone conversation the next day [26th Feb], Positive Luxury co-founder, major shareholder, and CEO, Diana Verde Nieto repeatedly refused to confirm or deny if De Beers had been dropped from the shortlist for the award and whether De Beers Forevermark brand had been stripped of its Butterfly Mark, instead confusingly saying "De Beers have not been awarded the Butterfly Mark, that is disinformation". She insisted "We don’t work with Anglo America, we don’t work with De Beers", and when asked about removal of De Beers from the website she replied "They were removed, hum, I think haven't been removed completely from the website."
When asked about Forevermark, she sarcastically responded "And where did you find Forevermark on our website?" [Positive Luxury having just removed Forevermark from their website the day before]. Without confirming or denying Forevermarks Butterfly Mark, she defended Forevermark saying "Forevermark for example.. All the diamonds are not from De Beers.. So how can Forevermark be in violation of human rights?" The fact that De Beers owns the Forevermark brand should be enough for anyone to understand that it is stained by the same crimes as De Beers, but for clarity we did ask Forevermark about the sourcing of their diamonds, their reply, as expected, was "We don't get any diamonds from sources other than De Beers mines."
When cornered for a direct answer, she insisted on changing the subject of the conversation to our demonstration and social media campaign. She complained that we had "bastardised" their Butterfly Mark logo in the protest, and complained of two tweets which had tagged her and the judges of the awards, bizarrely suggesting these two tweets were a personal "attack" on her and the judges and that "bullying on social media can produce mental health problems."
A recent article in the Evening Standard newspaper had alluded to the fact that the Butterfly Mark awards were paid for by the very corporations that received them, with a minimum fee of £2,500 for a company with a turnover of less than £1 million per year. Our tweet had asked how much did Positive Luxury receive for De Beers Forevermark brand's Butterfly Mark when De Beers annual turnover is over $6 billion?
Tweet Positive Luxury CEO Diana Verde Nieto complained about
Positive Luxury reinstates De Beers on shortlist of Positive Environmental Impact award 2020, as its winner
Three days after the awards ceremony [28th Feb] , in a reply to a concerned stockholder, De Beers parent company Anglo-American's Senior Vice President and Head of International Relations and Ethical Initiatives, Feriel Zerouki, said that whilst he could not comment on the contents of Positive Luxury's website, he insisted Forevermark retained its Butterfly Mark and not only had De Beers been shortlisted for an award but had won it.
When De Beers was first shortlisted for the environmental award, De Beers rushed to plaster their social media with celebratory posts "We’re excited to have been shortlisted for the Positive Luxury Environmental Impact award 2020! ". It seemed strange that five days after the awards ceremony, De Beers still had not celebrated their victory on their website or social media platforms - in fact no mention of it at all. Similarly Positive Luxury's UK website's newly posted section on the awards ceremony (posted after the awards) still did not list De Beers as a shortlist of the award, let alone its winner. However, Forevermark had by now been reinstated on the UK website as a recipient of the Butterfly Mark, whilst remaining struck off the list on the US website.
It was not until the next week, on 2nd March, that Positive Luxury hypocritically reinstated De Beers on its website and admitted it had given the Positive Environmental Impact Award to De Beers, despite being made aware of its links to grave human rights violations in Palestine. Positive Luxury stated it had given the award to De Beers because "De Beers has invested 1.8 million dollars to move 200 elephants from South Africa to Mozambique to a reserve that that had the space for them.."
Abbas Ali said "It's an insult to humanity for Positive Luxury to award De Beers an environmental award for sponsoring the transfer of elephants in Africa when at the same time its diamonds are funding the caging and slaughter of human beings in Gaza. We also have to question the judges on the panel that chose to award De Beers, how can so-called leading environmentalists ignore such a history of human rights abuses? Were they incentivised to help greenwash De Beers? We will continue to campaign. People will come to realise that the Butterfly Mark, in reality, is a mark of shame, a symbol of corporate greenwashing."
Sean Clinton, founder of the global campaign against Israeli blood diamonds, and heading the social media campaign, said "The jewellery industry has managed to con consumers and the public by claiming the trade in “conflict diamonds” has ended and use this to cover-up the multi-billion dollar trade in other blood diamonds which continues below the public radar. Cut and polished diamonds that fund grievous human rights violations, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, evade all regulation. These blood diamonds are a major source of funding for the criminal apartheid regime in Israel. Awarding a company like De Beers which has a supply chain heavily enmeshed in the Israeli diamond industry helps perpetuate De Beers fraudulent claim that their diamond are 100% conflict free."
Abbas Ali concluded "What is clear is how fragile the diamond industry is to public pressure. Diamonds are by far Israel's biggest industry, and yet diamonds have no intrinsic value - their perceived worth is all advertising and PR. As such, diamonds are apartheid Israel's Achilles heel. Palestinian civil society in 2013 called for an end to the trade in diamonds processed in Israel, for people of conscience to "reject diamonds from Israel which fund a military regime that murders, maims and terrorises innocent men, women and children with impunity". We urge other pro-justice , pro-Palestine campaign groups to join the campaign against De Beers and Israeli blood diamonds."
For further details, please see:
De Beers Diamonds - From Founding Apartheid In South Africa To Bankrolling Apartheid In Palestine
Protest Demands Positive Luxury Drop De Beers From Environmental Award
Palestinians call for a boycott of Israeli diamonds
Shareholders Against Blood Diamonds, booklet presented to Ango-American board and shareholders at the Anglo American AGM in 2019
Anglo American AGM - Protest Demands De Beers End Trade In Israeli Blood Diamonds
Valentine's Protest Against De Beers Blood Diamonds
London Protest Exposes De Beers Blood Diamonds
Also Of Interest
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