Death by Gadget: how minerals used by modern technologies fuel mass slaughter and rape
Posted in: Internet Use/New Technologies at 27/06/2010 16:50
"Blood diamonds" have faded away, but we may now be carrying "blood phones."
An ugly paradox of the 21st century is that some of our elegant symbols of modernity -- smartphones, laptops and digital cameras -- are built from minerals that seem to be fueling mass slaughter and rape in Congo. With throngs waiting in lines in the last few days to buy the latest iPhone, I'm thinking: What if we could harness that desperation for new technologies to the desperate need to curb the killing in central Africa?
I've never reported on a war more barbaric than Congo's, and it haunts me. In Congo, I've seen women who have been mutilated, children who have been forced to eat their parents' flesh, girls who have been subjected to rapes that destroyed their insides. Warlords finance their predations in part through the sale of mineral ore containing tantalum, tungsten, tin and gold. For example, tantalum from Congo is used to make electrical capacitors that go into phones, computers and gaming devices.
To read this report by Nicholas D. Kristof in The New York Times in full, see: