Resource pillage fuels world’s bloodiest war

The Daily


Fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo recently spiked last week, the scene of the world’s bloodiest conflict since World War II with 5.4 million killed in the last decade.


45,000 Congolese continue to die every month from both the conflict and humanitarian crisis with a scale of devastation of Darfur happening in the Congo every 5 1/2 months.


Exposing the role of Western corporations fueling the conflict, the enormous humanitarian crisis, and the plague of atrocities committed against women was the focus of Congo Week, a week of events and actions that took place on campuses across the world.


Kambale Musavuli, a Congolese activist and student at North Carolina A&T University helped organize Congo Week to raise awareness for the cause.


"We’re seeing masses of people being displaced from the villages, from the cities, simply because they live in an area rich of minerals," he said to Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman.


The official story of the conflict, Johann Hari writes in the Independent, is that after the Rwandan genocide, the Hutu perpetrators fled into neighboring Congo. The Rwandan government then invaded the Congo to chase after them and other nations followed, leading to a humanitarian crisis that continues to this day.


"But it’s a lie," Hari said a UN panel found, "The Rwandan government didn’t go to where the Hutu genocidaires were, at least not at first. They went to where Congo‘s natural resources were – and began to pillage them… Congo is the richest country in the world for gold, diamonds, coltan, cassiterite, and more. Everybody wanted a slice – so six other countries invaded."


The minerals found there are in high demand, especially coltan, of which Congo has 80% of the world supply. Coltan is found in all of our cell phones, laptops, and video game consoles.


The more coltan the West bought up, the more that invading forces stole, Hari said, adding that the "rise of mobile phones caused a surge in deaths , because the coltan they contain is found primarily in Congo."


The UN released a report in 2001 to 2002 on the illegal exploitation of resources in the Congo, which named several US, Canadian, European, and Asian companies (more than 100 total) in the report, according to Maurice Carney, Executive Director of Friends of the Congo and Hari.


The 2003 Lusaka peace deal brokered by the UN reduced violence until this latest surge in fighting.


"What we are seeing now is beneficiaries of the illegal war economy fighting to maintain their right to exploit," François Grignon, Africa Director of the International Crisis Group told Hari. 


Last October, Congolese activist Christine Schuler Deschryver described the horrific violence committed against women during the conflict.


"We are talking about sexual terrorism," she told Amy Goodman. "They are not just rape like usual rape, but they put hot plastics inside the organs. They put woods, they put bamboos, they put everything…guns. They shot inside the women, so they’re completely destroyed."


The rapes are a part of a war against women and their central role in African society, Musavuli told a questioner in the Washington Post.  But the source of the rapes is the conflict. And the cause of the conflict is the scramble for Congo‘s vast amount of natural resources, he explained.


 "So, to end the rape, you must end the conflict. And to end the conflict, you must stop the resource exploitation of the Congo," Musavuli said.


UN peacekeeping forces need to be augmented, but it is more important that the West act by not buying "blood-soaked natural resources" that fuel the conflict in the first place, Hari wrote.




Congo Week http://www.congoweek.org/english/


 Kambale Musavuli interview on Democracy Now! http://www.democracynow.org/2008/10/27/kambale_musavuli_on_the_forgotten_war


Jonathan Hari, The Independent. 10/30/2008 http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-how-we-fuel-africas-bloodiest-war-978461.html


Johann Hari, The Independent. 4/5/2006


In Bukavu, a 29-year-old human rights campaigner called Bertrand Bisimwa summarised his country’s situation for me with cruel concision. "Since the 19th century, when the world looks at Congo it sees a pile of riches with some black people inconveniently sitting on top of them. They eradicate the Congolese people so they can possess the mines and resources. They destroy us because we are an inconvenience." As he speaks, I picture the raped women with bullets burying through their intestines and try to weigh them against the piles of blood-soaked electronic goods sitting beneath my Christmas tree with their little chunks of Congolese metal whirring inside. Bertrand smiles and says, "Tell me – who are the savages? Us, or you?"




Maurice Carney interview on Democracy Now! http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/23/corporations_reaping_millions_as_congo_suffers


Christine Schuler Deschryver interview on Democracy Now! http://www.democracynow.org/2007/10/8/they_are_destroying_the_female_species


Kambale Musavuli interview in Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2008/10/20/DI2008102001849.html

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