To the Editor:
On an Island filled with consumers of electronics, I was surprised to see that The Martha’s Vineyard Times had yet to provide any coverage of the tragedies caused by coltan mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), located in central Africa, is rich in natural resources. The DRC has become a desired location for corporations to mine for minerals, one of the most sought-after ones being coltan. Coltan is an integral part of phones, laptops, and more, used to make components heat-resistant. However, the mining of this precious mineral is extremely dangerous, and often employs the labor of children starting as young as 4 years old. If the immediate dangers of mining don’t kill laborers, then long-term exposure to hard metals can cause lung disease and kill them.
If change doesn’t happen, we as consumers will be responsible for the continued destruction of the earth due to violations of human rights that occur in the DRC because of coltan mining.
Martha’s Vineyard boasts a close community made up of many upper-class members, all of whom are consumers of electronic goods. In a society where we have become dependent on the luxuries technology provides us, we see them as impossible to live without. As consumers, we have the leverage to force companies to enact the change we want. Although daunting, I call on you to stop your consumption of products from companies like Apple, Dell, and Microsoft, all of whom rely on coltan from the DRC to build their products. As their customer, you have the power to post, email, and write to them and demand that they change their mining practices and stop the human rights violations they are continuing to commit in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.