From: IPSC Press Office
Date: 5 February 2016 at 11:12
Subject: Global Valentine’s protests highlight Tiffany’s diamond links to Israeli human rights violations
Global Valentine’s protests keep Tiffany’s under pressure over diamond links to Israeli human rights violations
Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Press Release, Friday 05/02/16, 11am
Following demonstrations in London and Dublin before Christmas to protest Tiffany & Co’s relationship with Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR), human rights activists will hold further demonstrations in London, Manchester and Dublin on Saturday 6th February and in Toronto on 13th February.
BSGR is owned by Beny Steinmetz, one of the richest men in Israel. It has “a unique corporate structure; it’s controlled by a trust fund, of which Steinmetz is a beneficiary.”
Beny Steinmetz, through the Steinmetz Foundation “adopted” and donates to a Unit of the Givati Briagade in the Israeli military. The Givati Brigade was responsible for the massacre of 29 members of the Samouni family in Gaza in 2009 – a suspected war crime documented by the UNHRC, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
The Givati Brigade also played central roles in attacks on Gaza in 2012 and 2014 when thousands of civilians, including hundreds of children were killed. Human Rights Watch and the UNHRC documented numerous cases of suspected war crimes by Israel forces in Gaza during both attacks.
Federic Cummeal, Tiffany & Co’s Chief Executive Officer, claims Tiffany’s is a leader in sustainable luxury and is committed to the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact in the areas of Human Rights, Labour, Environment and Anti-Corruption. Tiffany’s relationship with BSGR belies Mr. Cummeal’s claim. Many of Tiffany’s diamonds are sourced from the Kidou mine in Sierra Leone which is leased to the BSGR diamond mining company, Octea. Tiffany’s gave Octea a $50 million loan to develop the Kidou mine.
Revenue from the web of BSGR companies is channelled to a Foundation controlled by the Steinmetz Family. After human rights activists revealed the links between BSGR and the Givati Brigade the Foundation website was revamped and scrubbed of all references to the Israeli military. However, a screenshot of the Foundation page showing its support for the Givati was widely circulated on social media forums.
As well as supporting suspected Israeli war criminals, Steinmetz has also been linked to a fraudulent bank operating in the Israeli Diamond Exchange and with accounts suspected of laundering millions of dollars in the Swiss bank HSBC. Furthermore, BSGR is also under investigation by authorities in the US, Switzerland, France and Guinea in relation to suspected corruption in a deal to acquire mining rights for Simandou iron ore deposit in Guinea, the largest in the world.
On December 8th Mondoweiss, a news website devoted to covering American foreign policy in the Middle East, published an open letter to Tiffany’s Chairman, CEO, Chief Sustainability Officer and Corporate Social Responsibility Committee detailing serious breaches of Tiffany’s corporate social responsibility which threaten the company’s brand and reputation.
Following the disclosure of the links between Tiffany’s diamonds and suspected Israeli war crimes the company’s Chief Sustainability Officer was as suddenly dropped from the line up of speakers for the forthcoming Responsible Business Summit USA 2016 hosted by Ethical Corporation.
A spokesperson for the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign called on Tiffany’s to end its relationship with BSGR and for the global diamond industry to reform the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme definition of a “conflict diamond” and ban all blood diamonds, including those that fund rogue regimes guilty of grievous human rights violations which presently legally enter the legitimate market labelled conflict-free.
For further information:
Sean Clinton, Boycott Israeli Blood Diamonds Campaign: @wardiamonds
Blood Diamond Demonstration Facebook event notices
Manchester – https://www.facebook.com/events/1725619214334194/
Toronto – TBC
Notes for Editors
- Tiffany & Co, Sustainability Report 2014 – Federic Cemmeal, CEO, – “Today, I see an opportunity and responsibility for Tiffany & Co. to set the standard for sustainable luxury. Ours will be an example for others to follow in the materials we choose to use, as well as those we don’t” https://www.tiffany.ie/CSR/#p+1-n+1000-c+-s+-r+-t+-ni+1-x+-pu+fullReportOverlay-f+-lr+-hr+-ri+-mi+-pp+
2 – Dec 2011 – Global Witness leaves Kimberley Process, calls for diamond trade to be held accountable – “Most consumers still cannot be sure where their diamonds come from, nor whether they are financing armed violence or abusive regimes.” http://www.globalwitness.org/library/global-witness-leaves-kimberley-process-calls-diamond-trade-be-held-accountable
- 3. – Amnesty International – “Impunity continued for war crimes committed by Israeli forces during Operation “Cast Lead” in 2008-2009, and there were no indications that independent investigations would be conducted into violations committed during the November 2012 Gaza-Israel conflict.” http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/israel-and-occupied-palestinian-territories/report-2013
- 4. – Human Rights Watch – “Official statements that reflect the military having adopted an unlawful basis for attacks are evidence of war crimes because they show intent.” http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/12/20/israelgaza-unlawful-israeli-attacks-palestinian-media
- 5. – Bt’Selem report into human rights violations during Operation Pillar Of Defense 14-21 November 2012 http://www.btselem.org/download/201305_pillar_of_pdf
- 6. – UNHRC – “The Mission finds that the conduct of the Israeli armed forces constitutes grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of wilful killings and wilfully causing great suffering to protected persons and, as such, give rise to individual criminal responsibility. It also finds that the direct targeting and arbitrary killing of Palestinian civilians is a violation of the right to life.” UN Human Rights Council Report of the Fact-Finding Mission of the Gaza Conflict – http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-48.pdf
- 7. – Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition -, Brussels Communiqué calling of the inclusion of the cutting and polishing industry in the Kimberley Process http://www.pacweb.org/Documents/Press_releases/2011/KP_CSC_Brussels_Communique_Dec2011-Engl.pdf
- 8. – Human Rights Watch “Official statements that reflect the military having adopted an unlawful basis for attacks are evidence of war crimes because they show intent.” http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/12/20/israelgaza-unlawful-israeli-attacks-palestinian-media
9. – Israeli political economist, Shir Hever, “Every time somebody buys a diamond that was exported from Israel some of that money ends up in the Israeli military, so the financial connection is quite clear. Overall the Israeli diamond industry contributes about $1 billion annually to the Israeli military and security industries.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q76ktVtvgVg
- 10. – Amnesty International – “Israeli forces killed hundreds of unarmed Palestinian civilians and destroyed thousands of homes in Gaza in attacks which breached the laws of war, Amnesty International concluded” – http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/report/impunity-war-crimes-gaza-southern-israel-recipe-further-civilian-suffering-20090702
- – Israel blocks reform of the Kimberely Process definition of a “conflict diamond” to protect its diamond industry – “it could be disastrous to trading centers, and especially to Israel” http://www.en.isde.co.il/article.aspx?id=29402