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Blood Cell Phone

Local Matters

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Congolese refugees and college activists protested outside Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Burlington office last Friday to call attention to a variation on the Blood Diamond dynamic. Mining of the mineral coltan — used in computers, cellphones and game consoles — is fueling a conflict in Congo that has killed more than 5 million people in the last decade. Demonstrators marched down Main and Church streets, pushing carts loaded with computer parts smeared in fake blood.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, home from the health care debate in Washington, D.C., met with the group inside his Church Street office. Leahy and Congressman Peter Welch sent staff aides out to meet the protesters, who want Vermont’s elected leaders to hold hearings on the war and sign on to a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, among other legislation that would address the Congo conflict.

Related blog post: Demonstrators Press Sanders, Welch on Congo Crisis.