Saturday, 7 February 2009


...Is a word that often crops up in the Gaza situation, indeed the Israeli government seems to regard disproportionality as good and legitimate. In this blog post, however I am referring to a different example of disproportionality, and one which risks offending some fellow campaigns. This example is the difference in energy devoted to anti-war campaigning between Gaza and the Congo, particularly given the vastly greater death and suffering in the Congo.

In the midst of messages urging me to support the Gaza sit in at the University of Manchester, I attended a demonstration concerned with the Congo. Attendance was around 150 people, small in comparison to the thousands mobilised for Gaza. Whilst there is a small but thriving Congo support movement in Manchester, it is not just the BBC who have paid little attention to this conflict, which has claimed some 5 million lives over the last 10 years. This is far more than Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine put together. One problem is there are no obvious good and bad guys, - certainly no obvious good guys. Placards at today’s demo attacked both President Kabila and rebel militia leader Laurent Nkunda.

There are however two areas where Western countries have an impact here. Firstly, the Government, in an astonishing denial of the situation in Congo, regards it as a safe place to return refugees. For more information, see here . There are various campaigns against deportations, and readers are urged to write to MPs and the Government to support these campaigns.

For the other reason, look at your mobile phone, or laptop (with which you may be reading this blog). Eastern Congo is the number one source of Coltan, which is an ore of the metal tantalum vital in creating capacitors. Rebel Groups and neighbouring countries have exploited used this to finance their military involvement, with western-based corporations willing to turn a blind eye in the pursuit of profit. See futher information here

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