It’s hard to believe that we are nearing the end of 2009. For Congo, this year has seen a lot of challenges and upheaval, but also perseverance and hope. That hope is first and foremost a product of the bravery and determination of the Congolese people. But it is also a product of the contributions that you have made to the movement for peace in Congo. You have helped us achieve so much this year:
* Earlier this year, you conquered the Congo Challenge by recruiting thousands of new activists to the cause and sending tens of thousands of emails to electronics companies urging them to make their products conflict-free.
* In the spring, you submitted dozens of creative and compelling videos for the COME CLEAN 4 CONGO video contest, and helped us spread the word by sharing them with your own networks. As a result, Enough’s COME CLEAN 4 CONGO YouTube channel received over 100,000 views, and the contest videos received over 300,000 views.
* You have helped us change the dialogue on Congo from addressing the consequences of the conflict to tackling the root causes and promoting long-term sustainable solutions. The media, companies, and our leaders are listening:
• U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited eastern Congo in August and asserted that "the international community must start looking at steps we can take to try to prevent the mineral wealth from the DRC ending up in the hands of those who fund the violence.”
• Congress has begun tackling the issue, with the introduction of the “Conflict Minerals Act of 2009” (S.891) in the Senate and the Conflict Minerals Trade Act (HR 4128) in the House of Representatives, both of which have garnered bipartisan support.
• Enough is in dialogue with 17 of the leading electronics companies, as well as the various industry associations, who all report a spike in calls, emails and letters from consumers about this issue. In response, several of the largest electronics companies are taking proactive action to urge industry reform and support legislation on Capitol Hill.
• Several publications have run pieces on conflict minerals, including Fortune Magazine, The Global Post, and CNN.
• The most successful broadcast in television history, CBS’ 60 Minutes, turned its attention to the scourge of conflict minerals in Congo.
None of this would have been possible without you.
We now have a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on the momentum you have already built and make 2010 an even more successful year for the movement for peace in Congo. Now is the time to turn the pressure up on our leaders and get the conflict minerals legislation passed into law, as well as get the Obama administration to articulate and execute a sustainable, diplomatic strategy in Congo. Now is also the time to turn the pressure up on companies that for too long have benefited from Congo’s misery while turning a blind eye to their culpability. If we make enough noise, companies will have no choice but to clean up their supply chains so that Congo’s worst human rights abusers aren’t turning a profit on the suffering of the Congolese people.
So as the New Year approaches, I hope that you will continue to raise your voice for Congo and stand in solidarity with the millions of women, men and children that are fighting for peace. If we work together and stay persistent, we can and will make a difference for Congo.
Photo: Three Congolese women. (Enough/Sarina Virk)