December 10, 2011 2 Comments
Although citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC) are among the poorest in the world, the DRC is widely considered to be the richest country in the world regarding natural resources. 8% of the worlds supply of coltan, a mineral vital to cellphones and wireless devices, come from the DRC.
A civil war has claimed 4 million lives over the past decade.
Coltan, cassiterite, and gold are minerals that have been driving forces of the war.
Keep in mind that these miners don’t even have the proper equipment to be mining. Most of them are just using a common flashlight and no other equipment or protection. Men and children are often killed by being caved in the mines and hit by falling rocks.
The brutal conflict has caused massive suffering for the civilians of the DRC. An estimated 200,000 women have been raped. A survey conducted in 2009 by the ICRC and Ipsos shows that three quarters (76%) of the people interviewed have been affected in some way: either personally or due to the wider consequences of armed conflict.
Rwandan refugees were flooding into neighboring Congo in 1994 due to the mass genocide happening in Rwanda: Hutus killing millions of Tutsis. Among the refugees many Hutu soldiers, involved in the genocide, came into the DRC. These Hutu soldiers were on the hit-list of the new Tutsi leadership in Rwanda. It wouldn’t take long before the DRC was plagued with rebel groups from foreign countries.
The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) is the most notorious rebel group in the DRC. They are believed to have special powers: they can fly, become invisible, and turn into animals. They are tied to the Hutu leaders of the Rwandan genocide. The FDLR are known for their mass rapes and murders of civilians.
The largest rebel group in the DRC, The Mai Mai are a group that came to be in the Second Congo War and they are still active today. As long as foreign forces are in the DRC, they will continue to fight. They are self-proclaimed protectors of the Congo. The Mai Mai militia aren’t always keeping the betterment of their country in mind: they are armed thugs, also responsible for mass rapes and murders of innocent civilians. They impose themselves in the coltan mines and watch over the miners with assault riffles so they can get their hands on the mineral.
Children are forced to work in the coltan mines, not even making enough money to receive an education.
Even though the DRC government has been pressuring the coltan mines, because cell phone and other electronic companies started pressuring the government of the DRC due to the horrific situation there. They have forced some militiamen out, but the Mai Mai and other rebels still occupy mines throughout eastern Congo.
There are constantly reports of men with weapons raping women, destroying property, battering, and killing civilians.
In 2003, Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of Mbuti pygmies, told the UN’s Indigenous People’s Forum that during the war, his people were hunted down and eaten as though they were game animals. In neighboring North Kivu province there has been cannibalism by a group known as Les Effaceurs (“the erasers”) who wanted to clear the land of people to open it up for mineral exploitation. Both sides of the war regarded them as “subhuman” and some say their flesh can confer magical powers.
Jason Mojica, the founder of Vice News, traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo and did a documentary on the conflict and the coltan mines. He even interviews some rebel leaders. It’s an eye opening documentary and I encourage everyone to watch it.
It’s shocking how The Vice Guide To Congo shows the FDLR (Hutu’s responsible for mass genocide) and the Congolese rebels working together. Even though the Mai Mai are the so called “protectors” of the Congo, they are working with the same people they are fighting to keep out. All because they share a common enemy in the current Tutsi government in Rwanda.
There is mass chaos happening in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The government doesn’t have total control of the country and people are being killed and raped every day by rebels.
The conflict in the DRC is hardly covered in mainstream media. Instead of worrying about how long Lyndsay Lohan is going to rehab for, again, why don’t we actually give our attention to something meaningful?