Image: Frida Kahlo, Love Embrace of the Universe
Remember, the Congo is an Economic War, and Darfur is a Resource War; How Far from Your Door Does the Shadow of Hell Fall?
By Richard Power
On 2-19-09, in her remarkable on-line diary, Mia Farrow posted this anonymous "Tribute to a Humanitarian" from a woman in Somalia:
If you see a world torn by famine and war and feel in some way responsible, you know the meaning of love.
If you see people with little or no hope and believe their survival is somehow linked to your own, you know the meaning of brotherhood.
If you feel those of us who have been blessed with abundance should share with those less fortunate, you know the meaning of charity.
If you can travel to the end of the world to bring hope to those who would otherwise never know it, you know the meaning of courage.
And if you can see a smile in the faces of those who should have no reason to smile, you know that there is still time."
But of course there is more than humanitarianism involved in agitating and advocating for the people of Darfur and the Congo.
There is also "enlightened self-interest."
Remember, the Congo is an economic war, and Darfur is a resource war. (Of course, both conflicts are about resources, but in the Congo the fighting is over control of minerals resources for commercial exploitation, and in Darfur the fighting is over water and other resources to simply sustain life.)
Now that you have witnessed just how rapidly the planet's most powerful economies can be brought to the edge of the abyss from within, and you are also beginning to comprehend just how insidiously the planet's mildest climates and most abundant environments can be severely undermined, certainly you can get your mind around the poignant truth that what is happening to the women and children of Darfur and the Congo today could happen to the women and children of the West tomorrow.
In recent days, the inner call to champion the cause of the planet's forsaken women and children, particularly those at great peril in Darfur and the Congo, has generated some inspired action.
For example, George Clooney skipped the Academy Awards and went to the White House instead:
After touring Darfur refugee camps in eastern Chad last week, Hollywood heartthrob and two-time “sexiest man alive” George Clooney met separately with both President Obama and Vice President Biden on Monday night.
Mr. Clooney says he urged the two to seize the opportunity for Darfur peace that he says could arise with the International Criminal Court’s decision next week on whether to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on war crimes charges.
Clooney then told reporters that Mr. Obama would appoint high-level, full-time envoy to Darfur. ...
The Tinseltown star even laid out priorities for Obama and Biden, according to CNN:
• An envoy working full time on bringing peace to Darfur – someone “getting up every morning with their sole job to find peace in the area,” he said.
• Persuading China to leverage its investment muscle in Darfur to push for peace.
• Pressing Egypt, the African Union, and Europe to strengthen diplomatic efforts in the region. Christian Science Monitor, 2-24-09
And after meeting with Eve Ensler and Dr. Denis Mukwege (who are doing a Pain Into Power Tour to raise awareness about the Congo crisis), New York Times columnist Bob Herbert wrote a powerful column that drew a lot of attention to the crisis in the Congo:
Perhaps we’ve heard so little about them because the crimes are so unspeakable, the evil so profound. ...
“These women are raped in front of their husbands, in front of their children, in front of their parents, in front of their neighbors,” said Dr. Denis Mukwege, a gynecologist who runs a hospital in Bukavu that treats only the women who have sustained the most severe injuries. ... Dr. Mukwege visited me at The Times last week. He was accompanied by the playwright, Eve Ensler, who has been passionate in her efforts to bring attention and assistance to the women of Congo. ...
Ms. Ensler spoke of her encounter with an 8-year-old girl during one of her trips to Congo. The girl’s father had been killed in an attack, her mother was raped, and the girl herself was abducted. The child was raped by groups of soldiers over a two-week period and then abandoned.
The girl felt too ashamed to allow herself to be held, Ms. Ensler said, because her injuries had left her incontinent. ...
Despite the presence in the region of the largest U.N. peacekeeping mission in the world, no one has been able to stop the systematic rape of the Congolese women.
If these are not war crimes, crimes against humanity, then nothing is. Bob Herbert, NY Times, 2-21-09
Meanwhile, Farrow herself has recently launched a Darfur Archive to record oral history from elders within the refugee camps.
Visit her site, http://www.miafarrow.org, for further information on this great undertaking. The site is a sacred spring of vital information and direct personal experience.
From Farrow's 2-22-09 post, "What you should know about Congo" --
The conflict in eastern Congo, the deadliest in the world since World War II, is being fueled by a multi-million dollar trade in minerals that go into our electronic products from cell phones to digital cameras.
•Tin – used inside your cell phone and all electronic products as a solder on circuit boards. 53% of tin worldwide is used as a solder, the vast majority of which goes into electronics. Armed groups earn approximately $85 million per year from trading in tin.
•Tantalum (often called “coltan”)– used to store electricity in capacitors in iPods, digital cameras, and cell phones. 65-80% of the world’s tantalum is used in electronic products. Armed groups earn an estimated $8 million per year from trading in tantalum.
•Tungsten – used to make your cell phone or Blackberry vibrate. Tungsten is a growing source of income for armed groups in Congo, with armed groups currently earning approximately $2 million annually.
FACTS ABOUT CONGO
400,000 Congolese have fled their homes due to violence in 2008.
500,000 Number of Congolese that die each year as a consequence of war.
1,100 Number of rape cases reported every month.
46 The average life expectancy for a woman living in the DR of the Congo.
22 Number of armed groups involved in the 2008 ceasefire agreement.
1 Number of times women are mentioned in the ceasefire agreement.
0 Number of times sexual violence and rape is mentioned in the ceasefire agreement.
$144 million Yearly profits by armed groups from trade in Congo minerals.
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For a Words of Power Archive of posts on the Crisis in Darfur, click here.
For a Words of Power Archive of Human Rights Updates, click here.
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For an archive of Words of Power posts on Economic Insecurity, click here.
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Congo, Bob Herbert, Mia Farrow, George Clooney, Eve Ensler, Darfur, Richard Power, Words of Power