Friday, July 25, 2008

"Blood Metals"

The video above offers some insight into the situation currently taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or the DRC. For those of you who have very little knowledge of just how serious this conflict is, please watch it, and then think of it together with the story below. The article says the demand for this so-called "coltan" has tapered off (not too many people are buying a Playstation 2 these days) but it also reminds us that Africa is full of plenty of other resources genocidal militias and despotic regimes would love to get their hands on and sell to unsuspecting prospective buyers in the west.

The ongoing violence in Eastern Congo could very well threaten another regional war if a catalyst would set the stage for one. Who's to say the latest must-have piece of technology won't be it?

Did Rare Metallic Ore Fuel African "PlayStation War"?

Remember the 2006 movie Blood Diamond? Academy Award nominated flick starring Leo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly about conflict diamonds mined in African war zones and sold to diamond manufacturers to profit warlords and fund brutal wars involving shocking human rights violations? According to a report by progressive media site Toward Freedom, subtract diamonds and insert Sony's international sales-record-trouncing PlayStation 2.

Blame it on a dull black substance called coltan, also known as columbite-tantalite, also occasionally dubbed "black gold." Coltan has been a source material in the manufacture of cell phones, DVD players, computers, and you guessed it: game consoles. Earlier this month, Toward Freedom claimed the metallic ore had exacerbated a decade-old conflict in the Congo, controversially rebranding it "The PlayStation War."

The allegations include charges that hundreds of millions of dollars worth of coltan was stolen from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during its bloody 1998-2003 conflict, mostly by Rwandan military and militias supported by the Rwandan government, but also by several western-based mining companies, metal brokers, and metal processors that allegedly partnered with the Rwandan factions.


programmer craig said...

It's possible, CH. But there was a lot of trouble in the Congo going back quite a bit before 1998. I think it was 1994 that a Rwandan militia took the country over. Valuable resources may be a catalyst for the violence but it's been going on for a long time! Congo used to be in the news a lot back in the 1990s.

C.H. said...

Yes, you are right about that...there are certainly MANY factors in this bloody war, a combination of greed, genocide, and rivalry among various factions. They say the war was at its worst back in the 90's, and even as recently as last year reports were coming out of the region suggesting that 1,200 people a day were dying of easily preventable diseases.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like there is any end in sight.