A new film, Merci Congo, by filmmaker Paul Freedman explores the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that has torn lives apart and killed millions of people – and what we as individuals can do to help stop it. The activists, citizens, and everyday people making a difference in Congo are the central focus on the film and play a starring role. The film also celebrates the rise of the conflict-free movement; a campaign led by consumers, endeavoring to ensure that electronics are made with minerals that don’t support armed groups. Speaking about the film, director Paul Freedman recently stated, “I wanted to go to Congo and seek out people who were on the edge of change, on the edge of justice [who think], This country is not a lost cause.”
As the conflict-free movement continues to grow throughout the world, Merci Congo exhibits the importance the movement has to the human rights of Congolese miners, their families, and their communities. The film celebrates victories in the region, while showing just how far there is to go in the prevention of mass violence and exploitation. While 79% of 3T miners surveyed by the International Peace Information Service no longer work under the threat of armed groups, political instability in Congo remains a threat to the lives of Congolese citizens. Congo’s constitution requires a democratic transfer of power on December 19th, but President Kabila’s decision to ignore this requirement could result in more mass violence throughout the country. Already, conflict in eastern Congo, funded in large part by the illegal exploitation of minerals, has claimed the lives of more than 5 million Congolese and displaced millions more.
The film features Congolese and international advocates (including Neema Namadamu), Enough Project’s John Prendergast and Sasha Lezhnev, activists from Enough’s Conflict Free Campus Initiative, and Enough Project Celebrity Upstanders such as Aaron Rodgers – all of whom are working to support peace to Congo, whether by supporting survivors of sexual violence, empowering women in remote areas with technology, or cutting funds to rebels by changing a business model. The film explores the epidemics of corruption and impunity, sexual violence against women, and armed conflict in Eastern Congo. Merci Congo is a powerful, inspiring film that moves viewers to get involved in stopping violence in Eastern Congo.