For over a decade the Bushmen of Botswana have been struggling to have their human rights respected by the government of Botswana.
Although Botswana's High Court ruled that the Bushmen have the right to live in their native lands in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve the government of Botswana continues to harass the Bushmen and to make it extraordinarily difficult for them to live there.
It is preventing them from hunting and providing themselves with essential sustenance which is both a practical and cultural necessity and vital component of their way of life.
Botswana's High Court has stated that the experience of the Bushmen is "a harrowing story of human suffering and despair."
The UN's Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples stated that "denial of services to those currently living in the reserve does not appear to be in keeping with the spirit and underlying logic of the [2006 High Court] decision, nor with the relevant international human rights standards."
According to Survival International, Botswana's security forces are arresting Bushmen and intimidating them without just cause, continuing a policy of hostility and antagonism that violates the democratic values and respect for the rights of all of Botswana's citizens that Botswana's constitution enshrines and protects and which Botswana's government is legally obligated to respect.
The presence of soldiers and police in the reserve is not a benign one nor are they there to protect and assist the Bushmen. On the contrary, their presence is a reminder of the contempt the Botswana government shows the minority Bushmen community, a racist contempt that is well documented by the statements and policies of the government which has called for the forced assimilation of the Bushmen.
Botswana's former President, Festus Mogae, warned that if the Bushmen do not assimilate "they will perish like the dodo" and his and the subsequent government have displaced them from their traditional lands resulting in damage to and destruction of their culture, values, and ways of life.
The Bushmen are legally allowed to hunt in the reserve but the government of Botswana continues to deny them this right in practice by refusing them hunting permits. Until 2011 it denied them access to water as well.
There is no reasonable explanation for these actions which violate their rights to life's most basic necessities. They are clearly efforts to make life unbearable for the Bushmen and to force them off their native lands.
But they will fail and however intransigent the government of Botswana may be the Bushmen will not submit to the irrational hostility of Botswana's government.
Their capacity for resilience in the face of unjust discrimination and persecution is undiminished.
The Botswana government is not only discriminating against the Bushmen by persecuting the Bushmen. It is undermining democracy and the rule of law in Botswana and threatening the principles of equal protection and justice which inform Botswana's constitutional and legal system. It is also flouting an array of legally binding international laws to which Botswana is signatory.
One Bushman living inside the reserve has said, 'Since the arrests, the lives of the Bushmen have changed significantly. The government has sent in armed forces to intimidate us, making our lives very difficult. We depend on the natural resources of the CKGR for our food. How are we expected to survive if we cannot hunt?'
Readers interested in learning more about efforts to secure the rights of the Bushmen can visit the webpage of Survival International, a London based NGO dedicated to advancing the rights and well being of tribal peoples.
Letters to Botswana government leaders and British Members of Parliament advocating for the respect of the rights of the Bushmen to live without harassment on their lands can be of great help in moving us closer to a time when the Bushmen's rights will finally be respected.