I think most everybody has heard of “Blood Diamonds” especially after the Leonardo DiCaprio movie of the same name. But what about “Blood Gold?”
The US TV news magazine 60 Minutes just had a segment called "How Gold pays for the Congo’s Deadly War."
You can watch the story here:
Five million people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a war fueled primarily from gold mined in the country by warlords and smuggled out to be sold on the open market. Scott Pelley reports.
According to a Times (UK) interview with Thaksin banned in Thailand, Thaksin has 10 gold mines in Uganda:
I don't know. Now I'm working, I'm doing business. I cannot just sit here and spend money. I'm doing business. Now I invest. I have ten gold mines in Uganda. I have lottery licences in Uganda, in Fiji, in Angola. We are about to start in January. Then the gold mining licence, which has very good potential. Then I'm signing the contract in Papua New Guinea on the gold concession, on land. I do the rough diamonds, too, we do the polishing. I decided not to do the mining because it's too risky. We will turn a profit quickly.
Interestingly enough, Uganda doesn’t really have much of a gold industry. According to 60 Minutes:
Uganda is right next door to Congo, but it has almost no gold production of its own. In fact, in 2007, Uganda produced about $500 worth. But in the same year, it exported $75 million in gold. Almost all of that is coming from the war zone.
We took a hidden camera into a trader called "Jit." We offered gold for sale and we were clear it came from Congo.
He bought our gold. And we got hold of internal Ugandan records that list 228 international shipments by Jit and many others.
U.N. investigators say most of it is gold from Congo, relabeled as a product of Uganda. After Kampala, it heads to refiners in Dubai and then out to the world.
Thaksin reportedly has a Ugandan passport. He says he owns Ugandan gold mines, but all the Ugandan gold comes from the Congo. Thaksin is living in Dubai. The gold is processed in Dubai and exported elsewhere.
If you want to read a comprehensive analysis on “Blood Gold”, Human Rights Watch has this report: http://www.hrw.org/en/node/11733/section/9
According to the U.N. panel of experts on the illegal exploitation of Congolese resources, companies who buy gold from Uganda may also be contributing indirectly to human rights abuses in the Congo. After mapping the interconnections between Congolese parties to the conflict, foreign governments, and companies, the panel maintained that some business activities, directly or indirectly, deliberately or through negligence, contributed to the prolongation of the conflict and related human rights abuses. Gold industry experts and companies who trade in gold must, or should be, aware that most of the gold traded from Uganda comes from a conflict zone in the Congo and that it was likely to have been exported illegally.
Thaksin is in enough trouble as it is. Has he foolishly decided to break international law by funding a civil war in the Congo through his dodgy "Ugandan mine” operations?