Conflict Minerals: The Truth Underlying the Systemic Looting of Congo

Archive for the ‘blood diamond’ tag

Why Conflict Minerals Is Not A Great Victory for the Congo

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miners1. The Conflict Minerals narrative leaves the public believing that the source of Congo’s challenge is rebel groups that brutally rape women to control lucrative mines. When in fact the source of Congo’s challenge has been the attempt by the West to weaken this wealthy and strategically important country through wars, invasions, assassinations and propping up of dictators.

2. It wipes out 14 years of crimes committed against the Congolese people in which foreign governments and multinational corporations are complicit and have not been held to account.

3. It says absolutely nothing about mining companies (Banro, AngloGold Ashanti, OM Group, Freeport McMoRan are but a few examples) operating in the Congo that have either been implicated in illegally exploiting Congo’s wealth or involved in odious contracts that do not accrue to the benefit of the Congolese people.

4. It takes none of the prescriptions that have been offered by Congolese women, youth, politicians or business groups over the years into account.

5. It offers no evidence whatsoever that certification and auditing of the extraction of minerals from Eastern Congo will end the conflict.

A few simple questions to Ponder:

1. Rwanda is a top buyer of Congo’s conflict minerals according to Bloomberg News (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?sid=a1p3C4mCsY2o&pid=20601087) and Uganda is building a refinery ostensibly to refine conflict minerals from Congo (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8662680.stm ) but the US has said or done nothing about their allies. The US continues to give both countries aid, military equipment and training. And shockingly Conflict Minerals advocates are silent about a main buyer of conflict tin. Why demonstrations in front of apple store but none in front of the Rwandan Embassy?

2. According to Dow Jones news Rwanda stands to make $200 million in 2010 from Tin, Tantalum & Tungsten, none of which it has large quantities but rather secure these conflict minerals from the Congo. Yet, the conflict minerals advocates are deadly silent. Why?

3. If US allies Rwanda and Uganda triggered the conflict with two invasions 1996 & 1998 and they either have international arrest warrants for their leaders as is the case with Rwanda’s leaders or international ruling against them as is the case with Uganda where the International Court of Justice ruled in 2005 Uganda owes Congo $10 billion in reparations, why is the State Department not saying or doing anything about this? There is law on the US books PL 109 – 456 Sec. 5 (http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s109-2125) calls on US to withhold aid from countries that destabilize the Congo yet no action is being taken.

4. Finally, atrocious crimes have been committed over the last 14 years where an estimated 6 million people have died. The United Nations via four studies (http://www.friendsofthecongo.org/resource-center/reports-a-studies.html) have implicated over 100 companies a number of which is American but yet the State Department Contact Point has refused to act on recommendations from the United Nations. Companies such as AngloGold Ashanti (the largest investor is American John Paulson of Paulson & Co. – http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=ajab_txy3yJM&pos=4) and Banro corporation stand to reap billions from the region of the most vicious violence against Congolese civilian. And the outcry from conflict minerals advocates? NONE!!!

In light of the above facts, conflict minerals efforts appear to be an awkward attempt to cover for US allies and US corporations (See previous Huff Post article by Congolese youths: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kambale-musavuli/conflict-minerals-a-cover_b_391506.html)

What should be done to end the conflict?

1. US should fully implement it’s own law, PL 109-456, especially section 105.

2. US should pressure its allies Rwanda and Uganda to stop the destabilization and looting of the Congo

3. US should hold its corporations accountable, especially its mining companies

4. US should engage in Congo differently by prioritizing diplomatic and political approach over a military approach. Read more about prescriptions http://www.friendsofthecongo.org/resource-center/policy-a-issue-briefs.html

Written by Congo Kin

July 21st, 2010 at 6:08 am

Conflict Minerals Critique By Congolese Research Institute

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All these initiatives, however, have to face a basic problem.  The values which motivate the various national or international lobbyists, such as the inalienability of human rights (the civilian victims attributed to armed groups, the enslavement of miners and their inhuman working conditions, the impunity, and the absence of social dividends), the political climate (the management of natural resources, taking into account also the environmental as well as the social impact), and lastly the economic liberalization (the market, rather than the armed groups, regulating the trade), can hardly attempt to raise the level of responsibility of a Congolese state that is no longer seen to exist in many public sectors and areas of the country.   The question that arises is: Without a Congolese state capable of playing its role in controlling and running affairs, how can the minerals of Kivu be de-criminalized?

It is imperative that the various people and organizations of good will who are determined to ensure that the minerals of Kivu are ‘clean’ or conflict-free first work towards a definition of the basics necessary for the re-establishment of the Congolese state.  Only when this is in place will the control of the mining industry be possible.  The various initiatives will not be effective unless this basic condition is met.
Aloys Tegera
March 2010, Pole Institute, Goma, DRC

Click here (PDF) to read entire critique!

What Does Dan Rather Say About Congo That CBS 60 Minutes Does Not?

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CBS ought to be commended for covering the “resource” aspect of the Congo conflict. It is a limited sign of progress for the corporate media that have been silent on the more than decade-long scramble for precious and strategic minerals in the heart of Africa. The broadcast left casual followers of the Congo perplexed because of the gross omissions regarding the resource war that has ravaged the country since 1996.

After 13 years, an estimated 6 million dead, hundreds of thousands of women and children systematically raped as a weapon of war, and widespread pilfering of Congo’s resources, CBS and proponents of the conflict mineral approach were deadly silent on the Western corporate exploitation of Congo’s riches. An orgy of looting and corporate plunder has occurred in the Congo at the expense of the Congolese people. Antonio Guterres, Chief of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights said to the world in a 2008 Financial Times interview, “The international community has systematically looted DRC and we should not forget that.”

The companies at the root of the supply chain responsible for pillaging the Congo have been well documented. The United Nations identified some 85 in four studies from 2001 – 2003 and the Congolese government began a review of 61 in 2007. Below is a limited sample of some of the companies:

Anvil Mining
African Resources
Afrimex
Amalgamated Metal Corporation
AngloGold Ashanti
Banro Corporation
H.C. Starck
Blattner Elwyn Group
Cabot Corporation
Danzer Group
De Beers
Eagle Wings/ Trinitech
El Nino Ventures
Freeport McMoRan
First Quantum
George Forrest International
Katanga Mining
Kemet Corporation
Lundin Mining
Moto Gold
Nikanor
OM Group
Traxys
Trademet
International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group

How is it that after 13 years of witnessing the grotesque carnage playing out on the bodies of Congolese women and not one of these companies was mentioned, referenced or even called to account in the 60 Minutes piece? How is it that proponents of the conflict mineral approach omit ALL of these companies? (Visit  http://conflictminerals.org/us-canadian-companies-involved-in-congo/ to obtain comprehensive listing of companies that CBS and the conflict mineral campaigners omit)

The above companies have been identified as either contributing to the fueling of the conflict, illegally exploiting the natural riches of the Congo or involved in odious contracts to the detriment of the Congolese people. They exploit strategic minerals such as coltan (key to cell phone and electronic devices), gold, copper, cobalt, diamonds, tin, tungsten and many more minerals that are vital to the function of modern society.

CBS traveled all the way to the Congo and did a major broadcast on exploitation of minerals (gold) in the Congo but none of the above companies was mentioned in its broadcast, in spite of their being chaperoned by two Western experts intimately familiar with the Congo.

Reference was made to a study by Human Rights Watch but neither the study nor the company (AngloGold Ahsanti, partly owned by Barrick Gold of Canada) identified in a 2005 Human Rights Watch study “The Curse of Gold,” was mentioned in the broadcast. At the end of the broadcast, viewers were left to believe that Walmart was the culprit in the Congo.

A plethora of studies and institutions have identified the sample of companies referenced above as either fueling the conflict or exploiting the Congolese people. Institutions such as the United Nations, the Congolese Parliament – Lutundula Report, Human Rights Watch, Global Witness, Rights and Accountability in International Development, Greenpeace, Duncan and Allen, Carter Center, Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa (NIZA), Belgian Senate, Southern Africa Resource Watch and the list goes on; have identified the companies. There is no shortage of studies or reports on this matter. Why the silence? Why no mention of the companies?

It is time that the conflict mineral proponents and the corporate media join Dan Rather (see former CBS Anchor Dan Rather’s Emmy nominated investigative report (http://blip.tv/file/1850129/) on American mining company, Freeport McMoRan in Congo) and others in Breaking the Silence on the systematic looting and exploitation of the Congo, its resources and its people.

Click here to take action to end the conflict in the Congo!

Other useful analysis:
Show Me The Data

Three Problems With 60 Minutes
By Dr. Dan Fahey

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