Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Conflict Minerals: An Attempt to Weaken Congo’s Social Justice Movement

The narrative that is being pushed by the United States government and former government officials who head “grassroots” organizations is that the source of Congo’s conflict is solely rebels who control mines and rape women. This narrative is a gross distortion of the root causes of the conflict in the Congo and the loss of over six million lives since 1996. It obfuscates the heinous crimes and the massive looting in which the United States, Canada, Europe and other nations and corporations have been implicated over the past 14 years.

Congo is trapped in a geo-strategic battle for its enormous wealth, strategic minerals and key location in the heart of Africa. The United States government has played a destructive role in the Congo for a long time and continue to do so:

1885 – First country in the world to recognize the Congo under the ownership of Belgian King Leopld II
1908 – 1960 – Supported Belgian Colonial rule under which tenure it procured the uranium used to fuel the atomic weapons dropped on Japan during World War II

1961 – Complicit in the assassination of Congo’s first elected Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba

1965 – 1997 – Installed and maintained the brutal dictatorial rule of Joseph Mobutu for over three decades

1996 & 1998 – Backed and supported the invasions of Congo by its allies Rwanda and Uganda, which unleashed the mass killing of millions of Congolese

2006 – Facilitated access to power for a pliant leader, Joseph Kabila in return for his providing unfettered access to Congo’s riches by western mining interests

2006 – present – In spite of the abundance of evidence produced by the United Nations and research institutions throughout Africa, Europe and North America, the United States government has refused to hold its allies Rwanda and Uganda accountable for their destructive practices inside the Congo. In addition, the United States government has refused to investigate the U.S. mining companies identified by the United Nations as illegally exploiting the Congo.

Presenting the Congo through a conflict minerals lens will do little if anything at all to end the conflict and will certainly do absolutely nothing about the structural challenges imposed on the Congo by the global community, which keeps the country and its population dependent and impoverished. Read more about why Conflict Minerals is not a victory for the Congo.