U.S. NGO’s Initiate Valentine’s Day Campaign

150 150 Rapaport News

(Rapaport…February 15, 2001) U.S. human rights groups launched “The Campaign to Eliminate Conflict Diamonds” with a press conference on Valentine’s Day, February 14, in Washington D.C. Speakers included people who had limbs amputated by Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and three members of Congress: Tony Hall (D-OH), Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Cynthia McKinney (D-GA). Demonstrations were also held on February 13 in Chicago in front of Tiffany’s on North Michigan Avenue and San Francisco in front of Tiffany’s in Union Square.

The campaign, sponsored by the NGO coalition of Amnesty International USA, World Vision, Physicians for Human Rights, Oxfam USA and World Relief, is geared to raise consumer concerns about conflict diamonds and solicit support for proposed U.S. legislation that would ban imports of conflict diamonds into the United States. Tony Hall will introduce The Clean Diamonds Act by the end of February and the NGO’s would like the bill to be passed by July 4. The bill would force the diamond industry and exporting countries in Africa to certify that gems sold in the U.S. are mined legally.

Amnesty International is running an internet campaign that encourages active participation to support The Clean Diamonds Act in various ways via their website, www.aiusa.com. Citizens can ask their congressional representative and senators to co-sponsor The Clean Diamonds Act by emailing them, or by calling “Capitol Hill Switchboard” using a sample script and lobbying tips provided on the Amnesty International site. They can send hand-written letters to their representatives and senators following sample letters provided online, or they can meet their representatives and senators when they return to their hometowns.

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