Students at Sidcot have been shocked to discover that they have "blood on their hands" thanks to technology companies and the mobile phone industry. As part of the Peace One Day activities, students at the Quaker school in North Somerset discovered that the components inside their mobile phones are responsible for conflict, violence and death in the Democratic Republic of Congo where most of the world's mineral mining takes place.
Jessica Starkey who is one of the school's Quaker Elders, said: "I just didn't know mobile phones were responsible for so much conflict. I used to think of my phone as a tool for peace and communication and it is shocking to learn of the violence which is caused by its production."
Students met with Miriam Gosling who is a Programme Co-ordinator for the charity Congo Calling which campaigns for fairly traded, conflict-free mobile phones, tablets and games consoles. She told students the mines which produce the minerals used to form the components in mobile phones are largely controlled by rebel groups who use violence, rape and child soldiers to control workers and maximise profits.
Jackie Bagnall who is the school's Director of the Centre for Peace and Global Studies hopes that learning about the work of Congo Calling will encourage students to think about the consequences of their actions. She said: "Every time we use a mobile phone, we have blood on our hands. The issue of conflict minerals is a very real issue and we need to ask questions about how our consumer choices are causing war. Learning about how mobile phones are produced and the impact on people thousands of miles away in Africa is important for young people: by raising awareness of this issue, students now have the knowledge they need to choose more ethical technology suppliers."
As part of the activities around Peace One Day, students created a global map with red handprints to symbolise the bloodshed in the Congo. A film of this can be seen here.