Letter of Thanks to US Senators Brownback and Durbin for Conflict Coltan and Cassiterite Act of 2008

Letter of Thanks to US Senators Brownback and Durbin for Conflict Coltan and Cassiterite Act of 2008

Senator Sam Brownback
612 S. Kansas Ave.
Topeka, KS 66603

Senator Richard Durbin
230 S Dearborn St. Suite 3892
Chicago, IL 60604

Dear Senators Brownback and Durbin,

I recently read your “Hope for Africa’s Forgotten: A Report on the Fact-Finding Mission to Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Kenya” report and the “Conflict Coltan and Cassiterite Act of 2008” bill that you sponsored and submitted to the Senate for consideration.  As global advocate for Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, I would like to thank you for raising the issue of the humanitarian crisis in the Congo for the United States and the international community.  This situation in the Congo has been a preoccupation of Global Ministries, many in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and our Congolese global partners.

May 18 to May 28, 2008 Global Ministries Africa executive, Rev. Sandra Gourdet led an Indiana delegation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to the Congo.  Among the participants to the Congo was the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins. Upon returning the group gave a presentation on their experience in the Congo and of the vibrant spirit of the people despite the hardships they currently experience.  In that presentation, the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins posed the question, “Have we forgotten the Congo or do we just not care?”   I dare to say that most citizens in the United States are not aware of the human rights violations that are occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The report that you have published and the bill you have sponsored has given visibility to the war in the Congo that has been directly or indirectly related to a natural resource which has resulted in the death of over 5.4 million to date.  This is the deadliest war since Adolf Hitler’s armies marched across Europe. This war has been dismissed as an internal African implosion. In reality it is a battle for coltan, diamonds, cassiterite and gold, destined for sale in London, New York and Paris. It is a battle for the metals that make our technologically controlled society vibrate and ring, and it has already claimed over five million Congolese lives in five years and broken a population the size of Britain’s. In addition to high death rates, the war has led to the use of child soldiers, child slavery in mines, a rise in HIV/AIDS, the mass displacement of peoples, and the widespread use of rape as a weapon of war. The United Nations has estimated that 45,000 women were raped in the last year in one province alone.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the most mineral resource rich country in Africa. It is estimated that 64% of the world’s coltan reserves are located in the DRC, while 34% of the world’s cobalt and 10% of the world’s copper reserves are found in the country’s Katanga province.  Despite the mineral richness of the DRC, 80% of the population survives on $.30 a day; 75% of the population is undernourished according to the UN; there are an estimated 1.3 million displaced people in the DRC; UNAIDS estimate that 1.1 million Congolese are living with HIV/AIDS; and close to two-thirds of the population in the DRC cannot afford conventional health care.

I am grateful that you are leading the campaign to expose these atrocities being committed in the DRC and that you have invited others to join you in the work to help build an equitable DRC.  May God bless you as you with many partners seek justice for the people in the Congo.


Rev. LaMarco A. Cable

Senator Barack Obama
Obama for America
P.O. Box 8102
Chicago, IL  60680

Senator John McCain
John McCain for President
P.O. Box 16118
Arlington, VA  22215