Is Your Mobile Phone Helping Fund War in Congo?
Insurgents in the central African state are earning up to £118 million every year by selling four so-called “blood minerals” that are vital in making electronic goods.
Warlords take over the mineral mines by systematically raping women and murdering men, and now a pressure group is asking British consumers to sign a petition demanding a ban on the use of metals sourced from Congo.
A graphic five-minute film, aptly titled Unwatchable, is released on the internet today to highlight the campaign by Save the Congo.
Filmed by Michael Bonvillian, a Hollywood cinematographer whose work includes Cloverfield and Lost, it tells the story of a Congolese woman, Masika, who was gang-raped together with her daughters before her husband was murdered and mutilated by an armed militia.
Others in the film industry who gave their time for free include David Arnold, who wrote the score, and who has also worked on Independence Day and Casino Royale, and Mark Wolf, the second unit director, whose credits include Iron Man.
To drive home the link between rape and murder in the Congo and British consumer goods, Masika’s story is switched to an English village where a British family are attacked by soldiers who land on their lawn.
The worldwide demand for gold, tantalum, tungsten and tin for use in mobiles, laptops, MP3 players and games consoles is driving up the price for the metals and making them a highly-prized commodity for rebels in mineral-rich Congo.
Rape is used by the rebels to drive out mine owners because, in the words of Amnesty International, "rape is cheaper than bullets".
Almost 5.5 million people are estimated to have been killed since the beginning of the conflict in 1998.
Congolese “blood minerals” are used in many electronics goods sold in the UK, despite the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development producing a due diligence guide for its members to choke off the trade.
Vava Tampa, director of Save the Congo, said: “Companies will only take action if they think their customers care. We hope everyone will get angry, demand that mobile phone manufacturers clean up their supply chains and urge the EU to introduce legislation compelling them to do so.”
Marc Hawker, who directed the film, said: "With everything else that's going on in the world, it's too easy to dismiss what is going on in the Congo. This is a hard film to watch, but it is nothing compared to what is going on in the Congo on a daily basis.
"Our aim was to shatter the noise of everyday life and spearhead the campaign with a film that can't be ignored because the issue is so monstrous and unacceptable."
To sign the petition go to www.unwatchable.cc