International companies are fueling the conflict in eastern Congo by not checking the origins of the minerals they buy, a human rights group said.
Some companies that source minerals in electronics such as mobile phones and computers purchase the materials from traders who work with rebels and soldiers who exploit civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Global Witness said in a report relased on Tuesday.
“All the warring parties in the DRC are systematically using forced labor and violent extortion in mining areas,” said Patrick Alley, director of the group, which focuses on natural resources-related conflicts.
The group called on companies trading in minerals from Congo to make sure they aren’t funding rebels and called on governments to cut off rebel access to mines and international trade networks.
The report specifically names the Thailand Smelting and Refining Corp (Thaisarco), the world fifth largest tin-producing company, owned by British metals giant Amalgamated Metal Corp (AMC), British company Afrimex, and several Belgian companies, including Trademet and Traxys.
Global Witness also said that governments, including the UK and Belgium, are undermining their own development assistance and diplomatic efforts to end the 12-year conflict by failing to crack down on companies based within their borders.
The conflict in eastern Congo has been fueled by festering ethnic hatred left over from the 1994 slaughter of a half-million Tutsis in Rwanda, and Congo’s 1996-2002 civil wars, which drew neighboring countries in a rush to plunder Congo’s mineral wealth.
“Many mining areas in eastern DRC are controlled by rebels and the national army, who violently exploit civilians to retain access to valuable minerals, including cassiterite [tin ore], coltan and gold,” the 110-page report said.
Cassiterite and coltan are used to make mobile phones, computers and other electronics.
AMC denied the claims by Global Witness, saying it followed guidance on trade in the region set by the UN. The company said it has been taking part in an initiative since July 1 to trace the source of tin minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Both AMC and Thaisarco have always sought to comply with the requirements and recommendations of the UN in respect of minerals originating in the DRC,” the statement said.
The industry-wide measures were launched this month, after the Global Witness report was completed, calling for more transparency of the mineral supply chain.
“If the UN were to decide that a withdrawal from the trade is the most appropriate way forward, then Thaisarco would comply absolutely with their requirements,” the statement said.
The company argued, however, that withdrawing would devastate local workers economically.
Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende said officials were committed to fighting against corruption and that a commission had been set up to investigate.
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
Australia is notorious for its venomous spiders, snakes and sea creatures, but researchers have now identified “scorpion-like” toxins secreted by a tree that can cause excruciating pain for weeks. Split-second contact with the dendrocnide tree, a rainforest nettle known by its Aboriginal name gympie-gympie, delivers a sting far more potent than similar plants found in the US or Europe. A team of Australian scientists said that they now better understand why the gympie-gympie’s sting haunts those unlucky enough to brush up against its leaves. Victims report an initial sting that “feels like fire at first, then subsides over hours to a pain reminiscent