Russell Simmons Replies To ‘Blood Diamond’ Director’s Comments

A

week after returning from a fact-finding mission for his Simmons Jewelry company,

Russell Simmons is facing criticism from film director Edward Zwick.

Zwick, who

helmed the new Leonardo DiCaprio movie Blood Diamond, implied that Simmons

is merely a public relations puppet for diamond companies. Simmons’

recently returned from a trip to South Africa and Botswanna after being invited

by the diamond industry’s Diamond Information Center. The

mogul concluded that the sale of blood diamonds has dropped to less than 1%, since

the Kimberley Process was introduced in 2003 to prevent the trafficking of the

illegal diamonds.During

the Blood Diamond premiere in Hollywood, Zwick noted Simmons’ figures

and questioned his support of the diamond industry in general. "I

find it embarrassing for Russell Simmons," Zwick told the New York Daily

News. "That’s a funky number. That number comes from diamonds that are

mined in countries that are ‘war-declared.’ Conflict diamonds are also mined in

countries where there is not a ‘declared war.’ If you want to know about conflict

diamonds, you don’t go to Botswana and South Africa. You go to Sierra Leone and

Angola. … Russell Simmons is being embarrassed." Simmons

has responded to Zwick’s comments and maintains that the film will scare

people away from purchasing legitimate diamonds. The mining process of the precious

stones have become profitable industries in some African countries.“This

is the arrogance of Warner Brothers pictures," Simmons told AllHipHop.com.

"They were selfish self-centered, greedy and hurtful to the indigenous people

of Africa. This messaging should have been changed after Nelson Mandela and other

African Presidents asked Warner Brothers to change it. Period. I am going to continue

to focus on the positive that can come out of this dialogue and work to help empower

black Africa.” Simmons

was referring to a letter South African President Nelson Mandela authored, reminding

Warner Brothers that some African countries were relying on the stones to rebuild

their war torn countries. The

Hip-Hop mogul’s review of the experience came across as positive as he concluded

that the diamond business has been a plus for poor residents whose lives have

been improved.

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