A few weeks back GamePolitics covered the so-called PlayStation War raging in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The issue revolves around Congo's supply of the mineral coltan, used in PlayStation 2's and many other consumer electronic devices.
In the latest development, a press release issued by the Panafrican Press Association charges that U.S. presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama just doesn't get it when it comes to the relationship between coltan and the ongoing conflict in Congo. Claiming that Obama has mistakenly portrayed the strife as ethnic, the PPA writes:
Statements... attributed to Obama, explains in part why there is such silence around the tragic situation in the Congo. The conflict is unfortunately and wrongly presented as ethnic bloodletting. The ethnic rationale... plays into long-held stereotypes that Africans are interminably trapped in "tribal bloodletting," hence, nothing can be done...
The central reason for the nearly six million dead in the Congo since 1996 is not "ethnic strife" but rather the scramble for Congo's enormous treasure trove of diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, coltan, tin, timber and more...
Beneficiaries of Congo's resource war include foreign corporations and consumers... Coltan is a key mineral that drives the conflict in the Congo and is found in our cell phones, laptop computers, digital cameras, video game consoles and many other devices. Congo has anywhere from 64% - 80% of the world's reserve of coltan.
GP: We were surprised to learn that conservative Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) is taking an active interest in the Congo coltan situation. Indeed, however, Brownback and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Conflict Coltan and Casserite Act in the Senate on May 23rd. Of the legislative proposal, Brownback said:
We are witnessing a grave humanitarian crisis in Congo, and we must act now to put an end to the death and suffering. Everyday, Americans use products that have been manufactured using inhumanely mined minerals. The legislation introduced by Senator Durbin and I will bring accountability and transparency to the supply chain of minerals used in the manufacturing of many electronic devices.
Sen. Durbin added:
Without knowing it, tens of millions of people in the United States may be putting money in the pockets of some of the worst human rights violators in the world, simply by using a cell phone or laptop computer. We ought to do all we can to make sure that the products we use and the minerals we import, in no way support those who violate human rights abroad.