Aug 6, 2009

Cell Phone Genocide

High-Tech Genocide by Sprocket was the #5 article of The Top 25 Censored Stories for the year 2007. Project Censored is an ongoing project by the Sonoma State University Foundation. I hadn't heard of this story until I picked up a number of Project Censored's books.

According to the article, the DR Congo is rich in resources (diamonds, gold, cobalt, copper, coltan, niobium) that western powers want to get their hands on. Coltan and niobium are minerals that are used in cell phone production as well as other electronic devices. These gadgets are made by companies such as Nokia, Motorola, Compaq, etc.

Mining coltan in Congo by the Rwandan Army during the high-tech boom in the 1990s generated an average of $20 million dollars per month. (In the 90s, one pound of this mineral cost $300.) Around 1997, the DR Congo was invaded by Rwandan and Ugandan armies, which were sponsored by the United States.

According to a May 2006 article in Time Magazine, "...a peace deal signed more than three years ago [2003] was supposed to halt a war that drew in belligerents from at least eight other countries, producing a record of human devastation unmatched in recent history." (my emphasis)

You really don't have to wonder what all these countries wanted in the DRC. They sure didn't come to bring peace. Even though the war ended in 2006 with democratic elections, there's still conflict and thousands continue to die every month. [New York Times]

With all the country's resources, it's sickening that the lives of Congolese people have not improved at all. We in the west are the ones who are benefiting through the exploitation of Third World Countries. And for those capitalists out there who may argue that boycotting certain products will only make the lives of these exploited people even worse are just trying to justify further exploitation. What's worse than extreme poverty, starvation, sexual slavery, child soldiers, HIV/aids, war and an infant mortality rate of 81.1/1000? How's that cell-phone of yours looking now?

Sprocket suggests placing a warning sticker on cell-phones:
Warning! This device was created with raw materials from central Africa. These materials are rare, nonrenewable, were sold to fund a bloody war of occupation, and have caused the virtual elimination of endangered species. Have a nice day.
Maybe more effective would be a picture of a starving child or a pregnant woman being raped by a group of soldiers.


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