In his Nobel speech, Dr. Denis Mukwege highlighted how the aweful conflict in Congo – the deadliest war since WW2 – that has led to the death and rape of millions of people, have been fuelled by the electronics industry.
The troubling reality is that the abundance of our natural resources – gold, coltan, cobalt and other strategic minerals – is the root cause of war, extreme violence and abject poverty.
We love nice cars, jewelry and gadgets. I have a smartphone myself. These items contain minerals found in our country. Often mined in inhuman conditions by young children, victims of intimidation and sexual violence.
When you drive your electric car; when you use your smart phone or admire your jewelry, take a minute to reflect on the human cost of manufacturing these objects.
As consumers, let us at least insist that these products are manufactured with respect for human dignity.
For decades, rebel groups supported by foreign nations have taken control over mines in Eastern Congo to “tax” the workers in exchange for their “security”. Minerals like coltan, tungsten and gold are then transported on roads also control by militias to be exported to Asian nations where they are assembled into electronics or jewelry.
This is a dark prism of human sinfulness. The deadliest conflict with the most horrific attacks on women is being upheld by the cornerstone of modern consumerist greed. As we celebrate Christmas, billions will be spent on devices that continue to fuel these atrocities.
It has to stop.
On a private level, we can make sure to buy electronics second-hand. That way, oppressive warlords won’t get our cash. But this also needs a political solution.
Make sure to contact politicians in your country and ask them what they do in order to stop the trade with conflict minerals, and how they are supporting the Congolese peace process.
The fact that you’re reading this means that you have a computer, smartphone or a tablet. I don’t blame you – I wrote it on my laptop. We’re all in the same boat. Let’s be silent no more, as Mukwege demands, and make sure the Congolese tragedy comes to an end!
Micael Grenholm is editor-in-chief for PCPJ.
Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!