“In the past 15 years 5 million people have died as a consequence of civil war in Congo. The UN has reported financial links between the war and trading of Congo’s natural minerals. These minerals are used to make your mobile phone.” These were the opening lines to a very informative documentary that was shown at the Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre Film Club. A thrilling documentary that succeeded in keeping you on the edge of your seat. Blood in the Mobile (2010) was directed and filmed by an extremely brave Danish humanitarian called Frank Piasecki Poulsen. This riveting film attempts to address the issue of conflict minerals by examining illegal cassiterite mining in the North- Kivu province in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, concentrating on a mine in Bisie.
Poulsen’s main argument is that our mobile phones are financing armed groups in the Congo and he agrees that most of us can’t do with out them so the problem must be dealt with by getting the phone companies to put pressure on the authorities to legislate and control the mining. At present phone companies will not admit to knowing where the raw materials for the manufacture of the phones is coming from and therefore unable to guarantee that they are not buying conflict materials. Although Frank Poulsen deals with his own mobile company in the film, he is at pains to tell us that all mobile phone companies are to blame.
|The Mining Camp Bisie.|
Not satisfied with hassling Nokia’s head office in Finland he also travels to the Congo to see the illegal industry for himself. After an unbelievable amount of red tape and bribes he finally gets access to Congo’s largest tin-mine camp, which is being controlled by an ex government army group. At great risk to him and his crew he takes the camera down one of the mines to see the dreadful conditions in which teenagers work for days on end in narrow mine tunnels with no safety measures what so ever, digging out the minerals that end up in your mobile phone and which is subsequently financing the bloody war in this poverty stricken part of the world one which will continue until the regulation of the mining.
The director makes it quite clear that Blood in Mobile is a film about our responsibility for the conflict in the Congo along with corporate social responsibility. He has produced a documentary that is both eye opening and harrowing and one that should be as widely seen as possible. The RBC screening was in association with Dumfries Fairtrade who also showed a short film called Fairtrade Matters about the difference that Fairtrade is making to the lives of tea growers in Malawi.