For Immediate Release
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020;
or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
Millions Dead in Congo Virtually Ignored in Election
WASHINGTON - 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.