Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Cell Phones, Playstations and the Rape of the Congo

Coltan is a metal contained in cell phones and Playstations. According to Johann Hari, eighty percent of the world’s known sources of coltan can be found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Much of the mining is done by slave labor, including children, digging with nothing more than their hands.

Congo has a history of over a century of misery. From King Leopold and the Belgian rubber plantations to the current chaos in central Africa, the Congolese people have been victims of those with power who simply take what they want and do as they please. There are armies from a number of different countries and private militias roving the country raping, looting, enslaving and killing with no one to stop them. The central government is so corrupt and weak it cannot protect its citizens. A country wealthy with many natural resources is impoverished as coltan, diamonds, gold and cassiterite are exported to the world market and the revenue is used to fuel the ongoing war.

Johann Hari recently visited Congo and his article reporting on his observations was published earlier this week in The Independent. It is simply horrific reading but necessary to appreciate this holocaust that is taking place as our attentions are elsewhere. His article can be found here.

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