|5:04 PM EDT||
Tony P. Hall, D-OH 3rd
Mr. HALL of Ohio. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentleman from California (Mr. DREIER) for his not only recognizing me but for his work on this particular section of the bill concerning diamonds.
I just support everything that the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. WOLF) has said. He and I are partners on this issue and so many issues. We have traveled together often.
The last time we were together in Africa was in Sierra Leone. The reason why this is germane and relative to us in America, people might ask, What does this have to do with us? Well, we buy 65 to 70 percent of all the diamonds in the world; and a good percentage of those, at least somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of them, are what we call illicit diamonds, conflict diamonds, blood diamonds. They come out of areas like Sierra Leone and the Congo, Angola, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Guinea.
What happens is that these diamond areas are seized by rebels. For example, in Sierra Leone, a rag-tag group of young people, 400 rebel soldiers, increased their whole lot, their whole army to about 25 to 26,000 overnight because they seized the diamonds mines.
What they do is they not only seize the diamond mines, they use the diamonds to trade for guns, pretty sophisticated guns, and buy drugs. And at the same time, they bring a lot of young soldiers into the rebel army, and they inflict cuts on their arms and on their heads and they put these drugs into them to the point where they go in and they commit all the atrocities.
The gentleman from Virginia (Mr. WOLF) and I visited amputee camps. We visited refugee camps where children's arms were cut off. They play this hideous game that when they go into a village they not only rape most of the women there, but they say to most of the villagers, stick your hand in this bag and pull out a piece of paper. If the piece of paper says ``hand,'' your hand gets chopped off. If the piece of paper says ``foot,'' they chop it off with a hatchet. If the piece of paper says
``ear'' or ``nose,'' they cut it off.
We have seen this over and over again. This is not just something that the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. WOLF) and I are talking about. This has been proven over and over and over again by many human rights groups, by the U.N.
There are a lot of boycotts on diamonds from Sierra Leone to Angola to these countries that we have mentioned.
I reluctantly agree to allow this and not offer in the Committee on Rules an amendment to protect this particular section because I understand in talking to the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. CRANE) that he is going to have a hearing; and, hopefully, we can get some justification, we can stop this hideous kind of killings that are going on in the world.
The reason why it is relevant to us is that we buy most of the diamonds in the world, and in some cases our people need to know that diamonds are not a girl's best friend. Sometimes they cause death, maiming, killing, all kinds of atrocities.
So with that, we are hopeful we can get some action this year. We are hopeful that the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. CRANE) and the Committee on Ways and Means will do something about this.