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The Word on the Week

Blood Diamonds

A couple of uncut diamonds or two “dirty looking stones” as the supermodel described them displaying a naivety which must have surprised the international war crimes tribunal sitting in The Hague. Even more surprising was the fact that two men coming to her hotel bedroom door after dark with a package was nothing unusual. The fact that she often received anonymous gifts from unknown fans did not arouse her curiosity and it was not until breakfast that she opened the pouch. They were identified as diamonds and had possibly come from Charles Taylor the Liberian President who was present at the dinner party the night before. She obviously preferred the cut variety of diamond as she passed them over to the director of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund telling the tribunal they had only been six hours in her possession. The director retained the diamonds to protect the supermodel from the law, as possession of uncut diamonds without a licence is illegal in South Africa, and only handed them over to the police this week having kept them for 13 years. All this would amount to very little were it not for the suspicion that these were diamonds, mined by inhumane practices by corrupt governments to buy weapons. These weapons were used in conflicts such as the war against Liberia’s neighbours creating a civil war which caused dreadful carnage in Serra Leone. The release of the Leonardo DiCaprio film Blood Diamond in 2006 highlighted the butchery, the title of the film permanently staining the reputation of diamond mining. Taylor, 62, is accused of receiving illegally mined diamonds in return for arming rebels who murdered, raped and maimed civilians in neighbouring Sierra Leone. The Bible does not mention blood diamonds but there is a well-known incident of blood money. This was the name the Chief Priests gave to the 30 pieces of silver which they paid to Judas to get him to betray Jesus into their hands. When Judas had done the act of betrayal he changed his mind and returned the money. The Priests could not put it back into the Treasury as it was “blood money”. They recognised the truth of Judas’s confession, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (St Matthew 27 verse 4) and used it to buy a field as foretold by the prophet Jeremiah. Judas killed himself out of remorse for what he had done. There was no evidence of a change of heart, no repentance but a worldly sorrow for what he had done. St Paul writes, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2Corinthians ch.7 verse 10) Even repentance may not save Taylor from the verdict of this court but it could make all the difference at the bar of heaven.