It’s time to boycott electronic products made with ‘blood minerals’.

Europe is currently experiencing an exceptional cold weather in days leading to the year-end festive season. Many in the business sector, and particularly supermarkets which normally count on sales during this period to increase their profits, are complaining about difficulties of shoppers to buy Christmas gifts for friends and family. Postal services and other delivery companies are struggling to satisfy their customers because of sometime dangerous roads or cancelled flights following heavy fall of snow on a number of airports.

Among the usual Christmas gifts a significant fraction worth billions consists normally of electronic products. These include laptops, camera, game consoles, mobiles, and other related gadgets. While millions of Congolese people and other citizens from the Great Lakes region cannot for example celebrate, because of inhuman conditions they have been put in by looters outsourcing minerals for multinationals, profits in millions of dollars are being made with the suffering of millions of people very closely similar to you and me.

We suggested an enforced and sustained boycott of indicated products as widely applied as possible, because this action is among the few which can impact on the very reason of ongoing unrest in DRC. It is rightly assumable that if the country hadn’t been dotted by so many reserves of strategic minerals and did not find itself governed by unpatriotic leaders not ready for all the necessary sacrifices for the high interests of the Congolese nation, the picture would have been radically different.

People need to remember that the tragic chaos that beneficiaries of the current situation have deliberately created has been going on for nearly fifteen years. In the meantime failed attempts to solve and address pending conflicts were simply designed to prolong the statu quo, since they did not intent to challenge the root causes of issues, which find their origin in the meddling of Rwanda and Uganda in Congolese affairs. For example, though most observers agree that issues at hands call for political and diplomatic solutions, the two countries causing all the troubles for which they accuse everybody else of being responsible have until today pushed for military options.

Going back in time, the Obama Law (Public Law: Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006) which was voted when the current US President was still Senator, if implemented, could have made some difference in DRC and the region. The law, among other things, promoted a diplomatic solution to the security and support for the Congolese government to help establish a civil and sovereign society. Unfortunately, this has still, four years later, not happened.

There are voices opposing suggested boycott arguing that it would not achieve intended outcome, which is to force everyone and stakeholders towards a political solution to the prevailing deadly and tragic chaos in DRC. They highlight the fact that US, Uganda and Rwanda need to be part of interlocutors for their different levels of current involvement in the mineral conflicts. The latter because of the supposed rebels based in DRC – Lord Resistance Army and Forces Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda, who oppose their regimes and, local militias the two countries themselves fund for their own mixed interests, and the former for  its strategic control over the region and access to important minerals for its military hegemony and favored multinationals.

Another argument against the boycott for minerals conflicts points on the fact that there are ten of thousands of Congolese whose life depends on mining. But it forgets to highlight the death toll of more than five millions that illegal exploitation and associated wars of occupations of the country to access minerals have caused to the nation. It would look selfish on the part of locals presently surviving from mining to think that their lives are worth more than those of compatriots and others who died because of the same riches they hadn’t benefited from necessarily while still among us.

As for an example of momentarily sacrifices for radical change for a given situation, it is interesting to highlight the fact that the majority of Rwandans keen to more respect of human rights in their country would like today to see partners who support Paul Kagame regime freezing their aid to put more pressure on him in a number of areas which deprive citizens of their basic rights. This does not mean that in case of suspension of aid, there won’t be beneficiaries of current statu quo who will suffer from such change. But thousand times more people than current privileged ones will be better off afterwards.

The fight of the few beneficiaries either in DRC or the meddling countries who are ferociously against any change, explains particularly at some extent desperate attempts to fabricate facts and or distort news which could affect their fate. But the selfless minded people in different places inside those countries and elsewhere who are tenaciously working for a different future in the region should prevail with time. In every place where oppression and misery have taken roots, short lived sacrifices from the privileged few for future long lived benefits for the many victims appear to be unbearable. It is only when me is put aside that them including me achieve sustainable positive change from sometime a tragic situation.


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