Protesters pressing Apple to commit to making conflict-free products were front and center at the grand opening of Apple’s first store in Washington, D.C., last Friday. The new Georgetown location opened its doors at 5 p.m to a line of hundreds of people waiting for a chance to purchase the latest products and receive a free Apple t-shirt. Enough supporters added to the excitement by gathering at the front entrance with Lisa Shannon, founder of Run for Congo Women and author of A Thousand Sisters. Overtaking the street-side view of the store, protesters displayed a bright red banner reading “Guarantee Conflict-Free.”
The purpose of the event was to educate Apple consumers about the conflict in Congo and the relationship between our electronics, the conflict minerals essential to those devices, and the war in Congo, the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II. As consumers who love Apple products, we must demand that Apple act responsibly and verify that the minerals used in their products are not fueling the war in Congo. We want to be able to continue purchasing Apple products and be confident that they are not helping perpetuate a conflict in which Congolese civilians are raped and killed each day.
As one of the world’s leading electronics companies, Apple has the trend-setting power to influence the entire industry. If every electronics company ensured that the minerals used in its products were conflict-free, rebel and militia groups would be denied the estimated $180 million they make each year and use to terrorize the communities of eastern Congo.
The advocates who turned out in front of the new store on Friday conveyed this message by handing out informational brochures and talking with people in line about Apple’s use of conflict minerals in their products. Other activists held signs that read “iPhone4Girls in Congo” and “I’ll Pad You on the Back for Conflict-Free.” The crowd was very interested in the issue and a few customers said they planned to email Steven Jobs directly or mention the cause before purchasing their new iPads and laptops. The protest at the store opening spread awareness to Apple consumers and turned up the pressure on Apple to commit to guaranteeing conflict-free minerals.
Our friends at Campus Progress produced this great video from the event, and additional photos will soon be available on our Flickr page. Visit Enough’s RAISE Hope for Congo campaign to learn more about how to get involved the movement to help end the conflict in Congo.
Thanks to all who joined us!