WASHINGTON – October 22 – This week is “Break the Silence” Congo week, a global initiative led by students to raise awareness and provide support to the people of Congo. Events are planned in more than 30 countries and on 125 college campuses.
The Congo has been virtually ignored during the campaign. It was raised in one debate by Tom Brokaw, who asked about “the use of United States combat forces in situations where there’s a humanitarian crisis … [like] the Congo, where 4.5 million people have died since 1998.” But neither candidate mentioned the country in their response; Obama talked about Darfur in Sudan and McCain talked about Iraq.
Executive director of Friends of the Congo, Carney said today: “Like ‘blood diamonds,’ which have fueled other conflicts, many political and corporate players profit from the conflict in the Congo because of its mineral wealth. For example, about 60 to 80 percent of the world’s reserves of Coltan are in Congo. Many modern electronic devices are dependent on Coltan, including cell phones and video games. So this fuels the conflict. We’re seeing mass death, systematic rape of women and children, forced child labor, vast environmental degradation and the wiping out of endangered species in the Congo. The players are rebel groups, some neighboring countries, and mining companies, but eventual beneficiaries are companies like Microsoft and Hitachi.”
An engineering student North Carolina A&T State University, Musavuli is helping to organize events with the group Friends of the Congo. He wrote the piece “What the World Owes Congo,” which states: “Last summer, the national news media announced the deaths of four gorillas killed in a national park in eastern Congo. A United Nations delegation was quickly dispatched to investigate.
“As a Congolese living in the United States and hungry for news back home, I was thankful for the coverage. But since my grandparents still live in East Congo, I would have also liked to have heard about some other recent breaking news items: women being raped, children being enslaved, men being killed, and many more horrors. I would like to hear about the nearly six million lives lost, half of them children under age five — that every month, 45,000 people continue to die in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; that the scale of devastation in Darfur happens in the Congo every five and a half months.”
Musavuli will be featured in a chat with the Washington Post on Wednesday at noon.