Sunday, September 7, 2008

On The Ground in Goma

A fascinating letter I received recently from an informed reader who heard about Heart of Diamonds

Dear Dave,

I intend to go right out tomorrow and buy your book. Having spent some time in Goma on a fact finding trip for Global Strategies for HIV Prevention in its work against gender based violence—-call it rape—-it is clear to me that the lust for precious metals and gems carries with it the need to subjugate, enslave, rape and kill men women and children, thus intimidating and destroying whole communities. The data we have gathered indicates that up to 60 percent of the rapists (Congolese soldiers, police and Hutu fugitives from justice) are HIV positive so not only is the violence tearing apart communities but it is infecting thousands of women in a delayed but certain genocide. (2000 women reported being raped in June 2008 in North Kivu Province and it is likely that at least that many more were raped but are fearful of the consequences were they to complain.)

Anyway, I look forward to reading your book. However terrible you may have painted conditions, actual conditions are probably even worse than you can imagine. I hope your book helps spread the word. The Congo government is lame, doing nothing, and the atmosphere of impunity encourages the epidemic of violence and rape. The resolutions passed by the UN Security Council, pending in the US Senate, and the “blood coltan” bill in the Senate are good for appearances, but the resolutions have not resulted in any changes, and the high tech lobbyists will never let the blood coltan bill pass.

Kerry Gough, Counsel and Director, Global strategies for HIV Prevention (Gender Justice)

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

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