Speech to the European Parliament
"Good morning, my name is Nicoletta Corradi and I speak on behalf of the Great Oak Association, based in Rovereto, Italy and which operates in the field of human rights. We try to give voice, through exhibitions and shows, to those who have no voice.
Today, on this special day, we would like to give voice to the many voices of helpless children, eyes taken away from their mothers, broken hearts, innocent victims.
"I started working when I was 9 years old, when my dad lost his job. It happened very often that I did not eat all day. At the age of 12 I was captured by some mine supervisors, I was with a friend of mine.
They asked for money, but we didn’t have any... they grabbed my friend and pushed her into a tank full of gas.
I managed to escape and hide, but I saw what happened. I cried, I was afraid and from where I was hidden I could see everything that happened ... "
This is what Mathy tells us in the Amnesty International Report This is what we die for, on the abuses that are still taking place in the Cobalt mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"I've worked in the mine since I was nine years old, for two full years, because my parents didn’t have the means to pay for food or to buy clothes," says Arthur."Mining supervisors had the habit of whipping us and immerging us in dirty water, and we often spent 24 hours in the tunnels. There's a lot of dust in there, it's very easy to get sick and we have pain all over the body" says Roger, 13 years old.
What does it mean for a child to work in a cobalt mine?
It means carrying heavy weights, 20-40 Kg.
It means compromising your health: bony and joint deformations, spine injuries, muscle and skeletal muscle injuries.
It means working 10-12 hours on weekends and holidays, as well as before and after school.
It means, for those who don’t go to school, to work all year long with very tedious hours.
It means being subjected to physical violence and sexual exploitation by mining supervisors.
It means drug addiction.
It means having no rights
It means having no voice
Today the voices of many children have come up here.
You have all listened to them and will bring them to your homes, maybe watching your children playing with the cellphone.
You, who have introduced and disciplined the traceability of financial flows and the food chain, are now being called to a new and perhaps more difficult task: answer these voices and thousands of others who would want to shout for justice, dignity, respect.
You are called to trace the extraction of cobalt, so that a truly "Conflict Free" product is placed on the market.