The inside of the computer I am using to write this is most likely dripping with someone’s blood. The war in the DRC is a symptom of global dysfunction of many facets at many levels. What to do? How can information like this get out wider, faster?From The Independent:
the debate about Congo in the West – when it exists at all – focuses on our inability to provide a decent bandage, without mentioning that we are causing the wound. It's true the 17,000 UN forces in the country are abysmally failing to protect the civilian population, and urgently need to be super-charged. But it is even more important to stop fuelling the war in the first place by buying blood-soaked natural resources. [Military leader Laurent] Nkunda only has enough guns and grenades to take on the Congolese army and the UN because we buy his loot. We need to prosecute the corporations buying them for abetting crimes against humanity, and introduce a global coltan-tax to pay for a substantial peacekeeping force. To get there, we need to build an international system that values the lives of black people more than it values profit.
Tantalum from coltan is used in consumer electronics products such as cell phones, DVD players, and computers. Export of coltan from eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo to European and American markets has been cited by experts as helping to finance the present-day conflict in the Congo, with one aid agency asserting that “much of the finance sustaining the civil wars in Africa, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is directly connected to Coltan profits”…Toward Freedom states that the 2000 launch of the Sony PS2 required a large increase in production of electric capacitors, which are primarily made with tantalum, which greatly increased the world price of the powder from $49/pound to a $275/pound, resulting in accelerated mining of the Congolese hills containing coltan…. statistical analysis shows it to be nearly inconceivable that SONY made all its PlayStations without using Congolese coltan."
From the Toward Freedom website
After it is refined, coltan becomes a bluish-gray powder called tantalum, which is defined as a transition metal. For the most part, tantalum has one significant use: to satisfy the West’s insatiable appetite for personal technology. Tantalum is used to make cell phones, laptops and other electronics made, for example, by SONY, a multi-billion dollar multinational based in Japan that manufactures the iconic PlayStation, a video game console. And while allegations of plundering coltan from a nation in desperate need of revenue seem bad enough, the UN also discovered that Rwandan troops and rebels were using prisoners-of-war and children to mine for the "black gold." "Kids in Congo were being sent down mines to die so that kids in Europe and America could kill imaginary aliens in their living rooms," said British politician Oona King