Students took a break between classes Thursday to grab Sharpies, decorate posters and take photographs for Instagram to raise awareness about the conflicts in the Congo.
“Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to the deadliest conflict since World War II. Over 5.4 million are dead, and over 2 million are displaced,” said JD Stier, the Raise Hope for Congo Campaign Manager. TCU is one of 115 universities nationwide that is planning to send a message to the next President of the Congo.
It is all part of the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative, a student-run program that draws on the power of student leadership and activism to bring about peace in the Congo and to urge students and faculty on college campuses to understand electronics powered by “conflict minerals” that are mined in the Congo, like tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold.
“When CFCI asked if I would be willing to engage TCU’s campus in bringing about peace in the Congo, I had to get involved,” said Hannah Wright, president of Falling Whistles Circle, a student organization devoted to bringing peace and stability to the Congo.
Wright was recently contacted by Raise Hope for Congo, part of the Enough Campaign, to bring its Conflict-Free Campus Initiative program to campus.
Conflict minerals sales help armed groups buy the weapons that are causing the unrest in the Congo. To control the mines, government troops and militias are murdering and raping civilians to fracture the structure of society, according to the Raise Hope for Congo website. These groups earn hundreds of millions of dollars every year by trading conflict minerals that are found in electronic devices.
“Your mobile phone, your computer and your portable music player are all fueling the fire in eastern Congo,” said Stier.
Campuses involved in CFCI engaged in social media when both Obama and Romney failed to mention the Congo conflict in the foreign policy debate on Monday.
To make the Congo a priority for the presidential candidates, CFCI is asking college campuses to help in creating the first ever Instagram petition to deliver to the president.
“All students need to do is get creative, take a photo holding up a sign pledging their vote for the Congo, and upload the picture to various social media outlets,” Wright said.
Students can upload the pictures to Facebook to tag CFCI’s Facebook page, tweet their photos and hashtag #Vote4Congo, or upload their photos to Instagram with #Vote4Congo and @RAISEHOPE4CONGO, according to Wright’s Facebook group.
Students who weren’t able to pose with a poster today can upload their own personal photographs to social media outlets until the end of the election.
All photos posted will be gathered by CFCI and uploaded to its personal Instagram account, which will represent the petition.
“Students engaged with CFCI on college campuses are waiting to see which candidate will acknowledge and take steps toward meaningful engagement on this issue,” said Stier.
After the election, CFCI and Raise Hope for Congo will combine all of the photos and send the petition to the White House.
“This really is the movement of the year and of the generation,” he said. “There are many meaningful community-based solutions on college campuses right now.”