Imperialism Is Hungry for Africa’s Cobalt: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dell and Tesla Sued Over Child Labor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

By C.R.

December 24, 2019

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the richest countries on the face of the Earth, resource wise. Cobalt in particular has the attention of the imperialists’ tech industry, along with lithium, hence the recent coup in Bolivia against progressive indigenous President Evo Morales. The DRC is a central African country and has become the world’s supplier of cobalt. Cobalt has been in use since early human history, mostly in painting and jewelry, in our modern-day the transition metal is used in lithium-ion batteries. The Congo, originally the Kingdom of Kongo and Kongo dia Nlaza, was colonized by Belgium. Nearly right after the area gained ostensible (on paper) independence from Belgian rule, the area fell into unrest and crisis due to the machinations of European and Yankee imperialists. It has remained such for most of its “independent” history, spending several decades under the thumb of neocolonial despot Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, who ruled with an iron fist over the DRC while auctioning off his country’s resources to the highest bidder and pocketing proceeds that rightfully belonged to the workers and peasants of the Congo.

Recently, with 16,000 UN “peacekeepers” controlling the area of Beni, the area is mostly kept in a perpetual state of collapse, and this all comes back to imperialist desire for Cobalt. Recently, Apple, Tesla, Dell, Microsoft, and Google, just to name a few, have all been subject to a class-action lawsuit for the deaths of many children in the cobalt mines. This lawsuit was filed by International Rights Advocates, an NGO which has stated as its mission: “By creatively using international human rights law in the US court system and those of other nations, International Rights Advocates (IRAdvocates) protects and empowers individuals victimized by multinational corporations and other powerful entities that traditionally enjoy impunity or immunity. Designed to foster global operations that, at a minimum, conform to human rights principles, IRAdvocates will challenge platitudes about social responsibility and contribute to eliminating the corporate practice of imposing human rights violations on others.” Sources say some workers are as young as 6 years old are forced to work in extremely dangerous mines at the expense of American tech giants.

Not only are children forced to die for batteries, but families are also pressured to give birth more children to make up losses for the dead and to accelerate production. The lawsuit is spearheaded by the case of a 15-year-old who became completely paralyzed after falling into a mine shaft. The lawsuit states that Google, Tesla, Apple, Microsoft, and Dell were well aware of child labor, deaths, and living situations that they were making a hefty profit from. All of the companies claim to have policies against child labor, yet they have known for an untold amount of time what’s going on, yet have done nothing. The UN has known of what’s going on, and have only helped secure the profits of these vultures. American journalist say “this is the beginning of the end of impunity for those who have been economically benefiting from child labor,” but in reality, this is just another case of imperialist rule and exploitation of the Global South and Africa. Our batteries, cellphones, watches, and laptops in the first world are soaked in the blood of Africa and Latin America’s children. Though Google, Dell, and Apple gave the standard PR response, Microsoft and Tesla refused to acknowledge their responsibility in the death toll. America however isn’t the only country to blame. 50% of the DRC’s exports go to China, a rising social-imperialist power which is in direct competition with Yankee and European imperialism.

The silver lining and sliver of hope for the Congolese people is a recent protest the lead to the direct action of the people torching the Beni’s mayor’s office, several UN vehicles, and the UN peacekeepers’ base. This was in response to a recent raid by rebels that left 8 people dead and many more kidnaped. These peacekeepers were originally deployed to the area to help combat the destabilization by the Ebola epidemic. Since then the situation has evolved into the so-called peacekeepers in constant state of war against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) who control most of the area around the mines.

The people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have a history of revolution and rebellion, though they have suffered great losses and many generations of oppression, we must stand in solidarity with the people and fight against the American imperialist that are currently the land and people of Central Africa. In the final analysis, these crimes against the people of the world can only be stopped by the masses of people in the DRC and Africa as a whole building revolutionary Communist Parties guided by the application of revolutionary theory to the concrete conditions of the African continent and rooted firmly in Pan-Africanist, Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, and New Democratic principles, wielding as main weapon the People’s Army that can finally destroy the presence of all imperialisms on the continent and unite it under the banner of socialism. In the US, our task is to aid these comrades through making our own revolution guided by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism applied to the concrete conditions of this country and led by the colonized proletariat. Liberation will not come through the enemy’s courts, or through an election. It only comes through armed struggle.