Editor's note: Actor and activist Robin Wright recently traveled to eastern Congo with the Enough Project, a Washington-based group focused on ending genocide and crimes against humanity. Her video trip diary appears as a special feature on a new UK edition of "Blood in the Mobile," available on DVD.
(CNN) - A 10-year-old boy, his face still innocent, abducted from his village and forced to kill alongside ruthless militia fighters. A 60-year-old grandmother too ashamed of the injuries caused by a brutal rape to leave her house for five months, even though her wounds worsened. A girl who reminded me of my own daughter, bridging the years between youth and womanhood, who had been dragged into a forest near her house by a group of men and raped, over and over again.
Images of these people, whose quiet but warm personalities barely hint at the atrocities they have survived, give a human face to the conflict in eastern Congo that has long moved me as an activist. With well over 5 million people dead through war and its accompanying hardships spanning more than a decade, it is difficult to imagine the daily impact of a conflict of this magnitude, much less to feel empowered to do anything about it.
Read the article in full.
I'm active duty military Belgian Armed forces and I'm currently deployed to eastern Congo. more specifically the town of Kindu.
I would like to express my respect to Robin Wright for comming here. and tell their story.
I have only been here for 2 months, but it truly opens your eyes about how easy our lives actually are.
greetings and respect,
1SG Plessers T.
Thank you for serving those in need.
Thank you guys so much for posting this up! It's been a wild ride this past year, but we're sotekd the word is getting out. Keep up the good work. Peace.Sean.
I hate articles like this that put the blame for the violence and atrocities committed here on the rest of the world.
I guarantee you if there was NOT high demand for gold and minerals mined in this country – there would still be violence, rape, warlords and gangs, and ethnic cleansing. After all they were massacring each other long before the advent modern technology.
The problem in Congo is a problem with Congo itself. I'm not saying the rest of the would shouldn't help...I'm simply saying the rest of the world isn't at fault...
Someone is exploiting them to attain their raw minerals to produce products. While the consumer is partially responsible, the brunt of the problem lies with the manufacturer. Need I remind you who that is? Their countless human rights violations and their undying support of corrupt regimes around the world speak for themselves.
the conflict in the congo dates back to colonization, Congo, like many countries in africa should not be a country, they are false borders created by the white man
Last I checked, the Congo was constantly raided for slaves 200 years before the west were there. It just continued when the west got there. The only new addition to the problem is these rapings and child being taken for the militia. Which I'm confident the west didn't tell them to do.
While I do think the west should help out, I can't say that they are the cause of any of this. Definitely not helping the matter, but hardly the reason for it.
Khan, I'm not sure you understand.
Nothing creates a potential war zone like creating a false border and then putting two people who haven't gotten along for centuries together in one country.
Your right it isnt the west fault but we dont help it either.... We in the west tend to hire these poor countries gang leaders to get us diamonds, minerals etc because its cheaper... I believe we must say that about Egypt, tunisia, syrai etc... its not the west stepping in causing this and in fact the west should keeps its nose out of all of and its grubby greedy hands to itself
Having spent 53 years in central and southern africa I have witnessed both ends of the spectrum of humanity. Africa lacks in leadership and direction, the issue of tribe is a important now as it was fifty years ago. The borders put in place are not a cause of problems but a complication in governance. The congo is simply too big and too diverse in its peoples, the division of tribes goes much further back than the white man's appearance. I am always aware that even well educated westernized africans will be very conscious of tribe and it amazing to see this playing out in cities like London.
It is a big mistake to try and ignore tribal issues, possibly the one great thing that Kenneth Kaunda did for Zambia was uniting the tribes. He acknowledged the issue and brought all but some western tribes into the fold.
I have come to the conclusion after seeing the Wests attempts to help africa, that africa needs to sort its own problems out – itself. It will be messy and not pleasant but looking back on European history there is alot we have to answer for.
How exactly are you going to guarantee it?
What the hell does the author suggest that the ordinary western person do? Refuse to buy cellphones? Then what???
The whole world despises what happens in the Congo – the UN has been there for decades – they have tried ALL KINDS of methods to stop the violence – and they have failed. Why is it the fault of anybody else?
What does the author suggest should be done that has not already been done?
The author suggests that companies and governments should be held responsible for the way they obtain their raw materials. The buyer has a certain degree of influence! keep in mind also the history of Congo, which is somehow the opposite of that of the United States: While the US is put together from states established by people who were looking for a place of feedom and opportunity, Congo was put together to satisfy the greed of King Leopold of Belgium and its borders drawn by its oprressors! This is not to excuse the misdeeds of its government, but to try and understand.
The United nations are weaker guars
I believe that if you actually study the history of the region, you will discover that exploitation of resources by outside powers is EXACTLY the cause of the violence, and this has been the case for centuries. The resources change; the exploitation remains; and the violence seems never-ending. Is this the "fault" of the Congolese people? I hardly think that blaming the victims in this instance is accurate or fair. From slaves to gold to diamonds to rare metals, the region has been stripped of resources for 500 years – BY the rest of the world. The Congolese can hardly be said to be doing this to themselves.
So what is being proposed? Should we all boycott cell phones and go back to land-lines combined with emails? If we did this sacrifice would anything in the Congo change? Yes, I do not like what is happening in Eastern Congo, however, can anything be done?
The US just spent about $1 trillion in Irak with the main aim of removing Sadam Husein in powers- In 1998 NATO under the leadership of the US spent more than $5 billions to hel Kosovo..how much have they spent to stop atrocities in the Congo- yes, congolese/Africans in general should take responsibilities of their own problems. however, since the west partial own some of the responsibilities to this whole mess, i expect them to intervene iin the Congo- it won't take $100 billions to stabilize Eastern COngo- it won't take about 5000 American dead or tens of thousands of injured from Irak to address this. That is why I think like many other people that this is more an issue with racism than anything else when it comes to addressing problems in Africa. it is sad.. and sad indeed!
How rue you are about the Congo situation! Africa will remain dark until these tribal wars cease. I would not invest there!
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admin hovored:Žiadny ritue1l. Mysledm si, že je na prvfd pohľad jasne9, o čo sa jedne1, tak preto som nevysvetľoval nič prdnoboe. Vo viacerfdch šte1toch Afriky majfa akfatny nedostatok vody a nie to ešte nejake9 vane, či sprchy. Len som chcel, aby ste si touto fotkou dňa predstavili, ako to tam asi vypade1.
As sad as it is, when capitalism is pinned against humanitarian interests, capitalism always wins. Buy low, sell high...
So instead, we should have Communism. Because Communism never killed or exploited anyone.
Communism never exploited anyone? Get real! Communism exploits everyone for one purpose... government.
I agree with Hope
I think Ron was being sarcastic
It's called sarcasm, get a clue
With well over 5 million people dead through war and its accompanying hardships spanning more than a decade, it is diffucult to imagine the daily impact of a conflict of this magnitude, much less feel empowered to do anything about it ~
Again, thanks, CNN...
I'll bet being a lay-a-guilt-trip-on-somebody activist is easier than having a real job.
I don't think the purpose of this article is to make us feel guilty. We don't support regimes. Its purpose is to help us find a way to rely less on countries who do... We need to learn to think outside the box and come to recognize manipulation and exploitation when we see it. Obviously, empowering ourselves empowers others.
Agree with Adam. I have live there before. I am witness to these issues. The issues are cultural and how the German and Belgium Colonialists separated tribes by type years ago causing diversity. For years and years now, it's more than exploitation of minerals. Is there exploitation, yes. However, the farmer and common man does not know of these things. They only remember and are told stories of how "so & so" killed their grandmother, mother, father, etc. It's how one ethnic group thinks they are more superior to another. Don't care if you don't agree with my view. Been there....
It sucks hearing stories like this before xmas i just can hope that these people can someday live in peace god blessyou
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For someone from that country, it makes me sad and furious to see that after all the lives lost nothing has changed. The conflict iwas and still is caused but outside forces and a corrupt goverment who only cares about its own needs instead of its people. There is no reason why a country so rich in minerals should be so poor. All those big companies are profiting from the troubled country because they are part of the problem! they deal with the rebels as well as the corrupt goverment, it's not like they don't know who they are doing business with. I hate seeing my counrty beeing robbed blind by outside forces. If the power nations could help regulate things instead of impossing their will on my country simply becuase they have intrests they can not afford to loose, that would be great! I hope this election will bring by change, we need it now more than ever. EVERYONE wants a piece of my country and its richies. Sad indeed.
Question, does anyone know where the rebels and the goverment get their guns from? because they are using it to kill the population. maybe their supplier should cut them off!
As a people we don't like or want to kill each other! Before we were colonized by Belgium we did not kill each other like this. You have to admit that the trouble in the east of the country is not only cause but congolese, but also by our neighboring countries. Yes that region is Rich but we will not give it up to another nation! It is part of the Congo as much as all the rest of the regions in the country. We just want peace and prosperity in our country that's all. We don't care to be the first power nation in the world.
Then you need to grow more people like yourself, get organized, set up a proper economy and deal on equal terms with the Western powers that are "exploiting" your country. All the outsiders care about is getting a good deal on raw materials, labor, etc., as anyone, including Africans, would. Africa needs to develop an infrastructure to bargain hard as the Europeons, Americans, Chinese, etc have done previously.
We definately want the same...
I dont know for sure but would guess they come from China in exchange for minerals. All our cellphones are produced there. They are notorious for supplying regimes and violating human rights.
Again, God bless...
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It's sad but true that all people're the same but comunist countries like russia,cuba,china did worst than capitalist ones in trading blood 4 $money!democracy needs a helping hand from few + others countries to stop pure greed + dirty trade!
It seems that no matter what the resource is there will be a resulting confllict if it comes from the Congo. I can't really give up my cell phone but an embargo could be placed on resources coming from there no? Unless companies start listing the origins of all ingredients going into a product, how can a consumer know? Does every cell phone made result in the rape of a child? I know she is just trying to raise awareness (and her profile) but this connnecction is weak. Next I will get an email telling me each time I text a girl is raped.
Some of the posts here show ignorance of the matter. Congo has been exploited firstly by Belgium and other colonial countries for a decade where people were turned agaist each other hence killing to survive. Secondly the developed world cannot afford a peaceful Congo because minerals which are being acquired for cheap will because very expensive unlike now were they exploit the insecurity to sell more arms and to pretend providing security through mulit inationa forces yet in the end getting cheap mining contracts
Andrew, you are correct.
The world cannot afford to have a united Congo.
That would mean the world would have to pay the people from Congo what their resources are actually worth.
You can't change the nature of the monkey to make it act like a White person. The White race is superior to the subhuman black race. We should do to Africa what we did to America. Clear out the natives altogether and repopulate the region with Whites.
on répond aux imbéciles par le silence.
you are a ignorant. wait the armagedon war is close. you don't have to scape. 1/3 of the world have to go and you are one among them.
@Racist Rebel KKK
You have just proved that you are a WHITE MAN who thinks and acts like a baboon's brain.
RRKK, the whites have tried that in Africa, it did not work. What has happened, They created a fighting force, you KKK can not manage. Talking about how much better you are than someone else is just talk. Do me a favor, move into the ghettos and barriors of America and tell them how you feel. They will all feel sorry for you. Your talk will show them to pity you, not praise you. Then and only then you will realize, if you were so great,you would have built your world in European. Being a theft only last a few generations. Check the borders here and you are feel like the native people did, when the whites showed up here. Your time in the history of this world is over. It was short compared to all the other people on earth. Before long your white skin will only make you a target. WW1 and WWII was white on white crime, so black on black crime is a start whats to be. You can learn a lot from the monkey. Ask the Chinese, they know.
RRKK, the whites have tried that in Africa, it did not work. What has happened, They created a fighting force, you KKK can not manage. Talking about how much better you are than someone else is just talk. Do me a favor, move into the ghettos and barriors of America and tell them how you feel. They will all feel sorry for you. Your talk will show them to pity you, not praise you. Then and only then you will realize, if you were so great,you would have built your world in European. Being a theft only last a few generations. Check the borders here and you will feel like the native people did, when the whites showed up here. Your time in the history of this world is over. It was short compared to all the other people on earth. Before long your white skin will only make you a target. WW1 and WWII was white on white crime, so black on black crime is a start for whats to be. You can learn a lot from the monkey. Ask the Chinese, they know.
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And how many of the slaves were sold into slavery by their own tribal chieftans? I'm so damned sick and tired of hearing about slavery and blacks! Personally, I think it is past time for every one of those countries to quit expecting the rest of the world to take care of them and get off their backsides and do something about their own countries!
@Kittyg – let me guess, you didn't see the video, did you?
God Save King Leopold II.
Dear CNN – why has this article not been pulled yet? The assertion it makes of a connection between buying a cell phone and the violence in Congo is not well supported. This article makes a mockery of attempts to address the very real problems of our world.
I think we as Africans in general should stop blaming everyone else for our problems...its a basic human principle, instead of blaming others look into the problem and try to see where you went wrong. Where we went wrong...lack of education, hence lack of exposure and empowerment...knowledge is power...an educated African mass will uprise against the corrupt regimes and say enough is enough! It might be a bloody affair but at least we will know our children will enjoy the lives we only dreamed of RE: Libyans against Gaddafi, Egyptians against Mubarak and the French revolution. .....
you know, if we lost all of the cellphones, laptops, and high tech gadgets, CNN would likely have to use (and pay) actual real reporters to deliver the news. as it is now, they get MUCH of their footage from cellphones, and from viewers that send them video and reports!
There we go again... Us Westerners are guilty for the atrocities in an African country. This time, we are guilty because we have been using our cell phone. Meanwhile, the locals in the Congo area suffer for us.
This article is another example of sensationalism.
II shall not give one cent for these local Africans. Whatever happens in Africa is not our problem anymore. They have had 50-100 years of civilization and training for democracy and the management of modern countries. They kicked us out because we (the whites) were acting too superior. We left too early...
I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Zaire 30 years ago and I live in the DRC now. I will confirm that this is not a "sensationalized"article but sadly true. Someone said it wasn't the west that introduced the torture of women and children but the Aficans themselves. That person would be wrong. The western rubber companies used to hold women hostage unless harvesting quotas were met by villagers and would cut off the hands and feet of children whose fathers came up short, wouldn't want to cripple the worker. It's much the same now, to meet the demands caused by cell phones and play stations evil people are doing evil things. If the consumers and the press put pressure on the manufacturers to stop using the conflict minerals the Congolese government just might get off it's behind and clean up the industry but as it is, by turning blind eyes, some people are getting really rich the easy way without risk.
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Next month: how your hair dryer is exacerbating the AIDS epidemic in Malawi.
GIVE. ME. A. BREAK with this. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWN.
I'm still trying to figure out why I should feel guilty and why I should give a flying CRAP about this bleeding-heart, hippy throw-back, "shame on you for using technology" article.
Ironically, the hypocrite who wrote this annoying "news story" (which is barely even is) probably has a flat screen, two cellphones, three laptops, a tablet PC, surround sound, two ipods, and a brand new SUV with GPS parked in the driveway of her two story house in Westchester.
CNN should stop this "social awareness" section garbage and start focusing on current events.
The ethnic violence in Africa is precisely why Western nations should not send economic and humanitarian aid. We are enabling these groups to continue fighting one another. Western money is used to fund the purchase of arms and munitions and perpetuates the fighting. Westeners are naive to think that money, education, and medical supplies can overcome centuries of tribal warfare. The West is better off to take care of its own people than to worry about the people of Africa and other 3rd world nations.
These people do need our help, but they also need the help of all nations that benefit from the atrocities perpetrated in the name of consumerism. Robin bridged the buffer zone that isolates us from the truths associated with our own comfort products. I am struck hardest by the confidence placed in Hillary Clinton as their savior of promised change and salvatiion. These oppressed people need real help, not just a faith in a photo op pledge by a person without the true power and ability to effect change on such a massive scale. If we engage in the actions required to end this problem, once again we will be commiting our young men and women to a stuggle to the death. Commodity based military actions will never end. Africa is a complex arena and with the tribal feuding, religious differences and rebel activity, a unified front to combat economic dictatorial behavior and set in motion true democratic change would be one of the most expensive undertakings, both in lives and material that the developed world has ever encountered
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I think its time for everyone to stop blamming the west for everythng...its time for people and countries and society as a whole to get this idea tht the "west is the problem" and tht all problems are started from "western ideas or people", when somethng happens in the eastern part of the world automatically "the west" is to blame...stop tryin to blame someone else and just take a look in the mirror and see who is really causing the problems...its probably yourself or the people around u causing miserary and heartache not me and my homie sittin in our livin rooms...
It is amazing to note that the comments have strayed away from the issue at hand. Instead, discussions have focussed on Them versus Us. The very reason why tribes will keep the fighting going. I wonder if we would behave any differently, had we the misfortune of being born in those conflict zones. Bigotry in rife!
Dare I say, welcome to the capitalist world? You cannot blame capitalist countries for exploiting the rest of the world, it's one of the ways that capitalism works.
It is far more preferable to begin the prevention of corruption and exploitation in those poorer countries.
No, it all isn't fair but who said it would or even should be?
I am an African, and my reaction to this story is one of guilt, because the atrocities themselves from massacres to gang rapes are elements of primitiveness, greed and sheer lack of respect for human dignity in these troubled societies. I'm not saying corporate responsibility from the mineral exploiters isn't worthwhile, but in my opinion, there are three major root causes of these retrograde factors 1) Poor governance 2) Chronic corruption and unspeakable greed, and
3) Irreconcilable ethnic divide.
Look at what's happening in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria: The multinational oil companies are paying their fair contribution to development of the localities, but the inhabitants of these oil rich areas are the poorest in the country, because the rulers pocket everything, including the oil proceeds and live in forbidden opulence with tons of cash in western banks, while their citizens perish in abject poverty and ethnic conflicts. Are western consumers of gold, diamond, oil and other exported resources to blame here? no I don't think so. Africans have got to face the truth and be responsible in developing their continent, because they've got enough natural resources to make this happen. Another factor of decadence is the unspeakable horror of rampant rape in the southern African societies, a disturbing socio-cultural trend the governments refuse to address even as they witness the staggering toll of HIV/AIDS and erosion of human dignity in around them. This is a good article, but should instead serve as another wake-up call for Africans!
The words all have the meaning of balls to eat.It's amazing.the same thing in different country has different names.Melinda Gao
“As consumers, we're perpetuating the conflict. We have an obligation but also an opportunity”. Let me get this straight, we are to blame for what the Africans are doing to their own people and not the Africans. I don’t buy that line for one minute, the Africans themselves that are to blame,. If the rest of the world can mine their minerals right so can they. Start blaming the bad men that doing this, the Africans themselves. No one in the rest of the world is making them do what there are doing. I think I will buy me a new cell phone today.
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