For more than a century, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been plagued by regional conflict and a deadly scramble for its vast natural resources. In eastern Congo today, these mineral resources are financing multiple armed groups, many of whom use mass rape as a deliberate strategy to intimidate and control local populations, thereby securing control of mines, trading routes, and other strategic areas.
Armed groups earn hundreds of millions of dollars per year by trading four main minerals: the ores that produce tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold. This money enables the militias to purchase large numbers of weapons and continue their campaign of brutal violence against civilians, with some of the worst abuses occurring in mining areas. The majority of these minerals eventually wind up in electronic devices such as cell phones, portable music players, and computers. Given the lack of a transparent minerals supply chain, American consumers have no way to ensure that their purchases are not financing armed groups that regularly commit atrocities, including mass rape. We must create a certification process for these minerals as a first step in stopping the atrocities that are occurring,
We are taught in Leviticus that “You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.” (Leviticus 19:16). Our tradition also demands that we must look up and down the supply chain to ensure that there are no deceptive practices. In the Mishnah (Baba Metzia 4:11), we are taught that:
A man whose wine is mixed with water may not sell it in a shop unless he had told the buyer (that it is mixed); and he may not sell it to a merchant, however, even when he informs him of the fact, because a merchant buys it only with the intention of deceiving the consumers.
We are clearly taught that it is our right, and our responsibility, to know and understand where our products are coming from, and what is going into their production. If the rabbis concerned themselves with wine mixed with water being sold in local shops, how much stronger would their reactions have been to conflict minerals, whose very sale is mixed with blood and death?
Urge your member of Congress to work towards a minerals certification process and encourage the Secretary of State to do the same. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121 or you can send an e-mail by entering your zip code below. For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Madison Arent at 202.387.2800