Vince Cable grandson’s photojournalism inspired by Congo Calling

Press release

Ayrton Cable, Vince Cable’s grandson, longlisted for children’s photojournalism prize for work on “blood phones”

Ayrton Cable, the 10-year-old grandson of Liberal Democract politician Vince Cable, has been longlisted in the photojournalism category of a prestigious Amnesty International competition. Ayrton’s photo shows his mother using a mobile phone and the text “Blood Phones: Demand A Fair Trade Mobile Phone”. Ayrton took the photo to highlight the work of a new organisation, Congo Calling, that is dedicated to campaigning for an end to exploitative sourcing of minerals for mobile phones and related technologies that cause terrible harm in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Ayrton’s photograph has been longlisted for the Amnesty International Young Human Rights Reporter Competition 2013 as part of the photojournalism category, which is running for the first time this year.

The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo has been involved in an extremely violent civil war since 1996. Much of the war is driven by clashes between rival warlords over the right to mine precious minerals that are used in the manufacture of mobile phones, game consoles, and similar technologies by companies including Apple, Samsung, and Sony.

The war has brought great suffering to the civilian population of the Congo. People, including children, are forced to work as slaves in the mine. Many die or become seriously ill as a result of the dangerous conditions there. Sexual violence is used by the armed groups as a way of terrorising and controlling local populations; the United Nations has identified the area as having the worst record of sexual violence in the world, and gang rapes and extreme sexual violence are commonplace. The area has been economically and culturally devastated and is likely to remain in that state until fairer ways of sourcing minerals for use in phones in the UK and other more-developed countries are found – and work like Ayrton’s is crucial in drawing attention to the problems in the Congo. (There is more information on this website)

Ayrton Cable, who took the photograph, said, “I’m very happy to have been longlisted! I really would like to thank everyone who is helping out with the campaign. There is a terrible amount of suffering in the Congo. A fair trade phone would make a huge difference to the nation.”

Vince Cable, Ayrton’s grandfather, said of his grandson’s achievement: “Ayrton has developed a reputation for mature and interesting use of film and photography. He was chosen to lead a campaign on animal welfare after he had made a short film on the condition of farm animals and gave an impressive talk in Parliament about it. He has now taken on the theme of the dreadful exploitation of the Congo to obtain rare minerals used in mobile phones. Ayrton’s picture of a very glamorous woman (his mother) illustrates the casual way in which we all use the products of this human tragedy.”

Bandi Mbubi, founder of the Congo Calling campaigning organisation that inspired Ayrton’s entry, added, “I am really impressed that Ayrton has been longlisted for this high profile award. Publicity generated by his participation in the competition is drawing much needed attention to the role conflict-minerals play in fuelling the war in Congo. Over 5 million people have died since 1996. Increased awareness of the situation there allows consumers to make informed decisions about the electronic devices they buy. Just as we demand fair-trade food and clothes, we should demand fair-trade phones that will allow communities in the Congo to start benefitting from their immense natural wealth. I am delighted by Ayrton’s concern and solidarity with the people of Congo.”

 

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