Hello all –
Hope everyone enjoyed your holidays break. I did, while waiting for my FP2 and carelessly showed a friend of mine over coffee my nice-looking FP1. That friend happens to belong to a large software company with global presence. I suggested to him that his company should consider adopting FP2 since they also care a lot about fairness and equality. He took the idea and shared it among his colleagues. Then, he got this very strong objection from a colleague based in Africa. I’m sharing it in full but without the name of this African colleague:
The claims made by the website is very misleading for those not following very closely what is happening in the Congo. The fact that they can boldly say that they are sourcing mineral exports (tungsten) from Rwanda should worry buyers as they have been numerous UN reports implicating Rwanda and Uganda in the pilfering of Congo’s resources.
It is important to know that the so-called “conflict-free” minerals is a western propaganda which only has had little to no effect in stopping the conflict. The apparent effect is that this approach has increased violence in areas given the de-facto embargo on Congo’s minerals which has pushed local communities into mineral smuggling.
It is more of a commercial incentive to make global consumers of electronics device feel good about their purchase rather than addressing the fundamental problem that exists which is that Congo’s resources are being looted for the benefit of western consumers, mainly the weapon manufacturers. Did you know that there are Canadian mining companies operating in the Congo extracting gold for example and not subject to any scrutiny?
Another effect of this approach has been the removal of artisanal miners in areas rich of minerals and for giant mining corporation such as BANRO taking over lands with ridiculous profits up to 90% equity stake. Reading the page it says “In 1996, Banro acquired control of the Twangiza property, and during the following year, undertook a US $9 million exploration program.” What the page doesn’t say is that Congo (then Zaire) went to war in that time and that Banro acquired this land from rebel leaders. It also doesn’t say anything about how over a dozen people (some accounts says 22) were buried alive (page 181 - last bullet point) after being subjected to atrocities in the same area today where BANRO extract the gold. The real culprits not held accountable by this conflict-free approach are the mining corporations as detailed in the book “Imperial Canada Inc: Legal Haven of Choice for the World’s Mining Industries”.
I wish the people coming up with these approaches would ask the Congolese people rather than providing a solution to Congo’s problem without their input. I can expend more on this issue, but a few resources here and here can help.
You can purchase the phone from the website… but be clear that the claims made on the Congo are inaccurate, misleading and an outright equivocation.
As a fan of FP, I certainly found this to be upsetting. But this is someone who obviously knows a lot more about the issues than me. Even though I think he might be a bit too opinionated, I think it would be necessary for this community to know what he says and respond to it.
After all, he is still seeing FP as little more than a consumer product. But the essence of FP, as I understand it, is that it’s a social movement. A movement that works collectively and makes progress step by step, including responding to such sharp critiques.
What do you think?