Blood in the Mobile

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is flush with gold, rubber, coltan, and other raw materials that form the luxuries of the Western world. Yet all these riches have bought its people is the greatest humanitarian crisis of the 21st century, with an estimated 5-6 million deaths since 1996 (not to mention the mass rapes of hundreds of thousands of women).

Director Frank Piasecki Poulsen’s film, Blood in the Mobile, investigates the extraction of just one of these materials: cassiterite, a mineral used for producing tin that shows up in all kinds of electronics—like mobile phones.

Bisie, a mine featured in the film, is one of the largest and most notorious illegal mines in the region. According to the film’s website, “Child labor, prostitution of under age girls, and lack of rights and protection of miners are some of the conditions around the mining operations of cassiterite. The money from the minerals is financing the war in the region.”

The current conflict around minerals is far from new: it is embedded in 125 years of colonial exploitation, starting with the brutal extraction of rubber through the kidnapping, forced labor, and genocide of millions of Congolese people under Belgium’s King Leopold II in 1885. The region has continued to suffer under foreign political and corporate theft and meddling, and its current crisis must be understood in this context.

See what happens when Poulsen takes his findings to Nokia headquarters: Watch the full documentary on Link TV (U.S. only).

Header photos by Grassroots Group; John Karakatsanis

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