Marcus Bleasdale (b. 1968) is a documentary photographer who uses his work to influence policy makers around the world. Over the past fifteen years, documenting some of the world’s most brutal wars, Bleasdale has focused on campaigning against human rights abuses. He has been documenting these issues for Human Rights Watch and is a contributing photographer for National Geographic Magazine.
Using his background in business and economics, he researches the sources of the finances driving conflicts, which usually leads to the mines, and the armed networks linked to them. He has covered the wars in Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Somalia, Chad, Darfur, Kashmir and Georgia.
Since 2000, Bleasdale has worked extensively in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo documenting a war funded by the extraction of the minerals used in every day electronic products. He has partnered with international advocacy groups Human Rights Watch and the Enough Project to engage U.S. and European politicians and multinational companies to change government policy and working practices.
Over the past two years, Bleasdale has been working in the Central African Republic documenting the conflict in the region. The work from Central African Republic won the Amnesty International Award for Media in 2014 and the prestigious Robert Capa Gold Medal from the Overseas Press Club of America in 2015.
He has published three books: One Hundred Years of Darkness documenting life along the Congo River after the overthrow of Mboutu, The Rape of a Nation documenting the exploitation of natural resources in Eastern Congo and most recently, The Unravelling, documenting the brutal conflict in the Central African Republic.
RAPE OF A NATION
September 7 – October 21, 2011
Diamonds and gold — vast natural resources that could enrich a nation — are a curse in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the Congolese people have suffered the largest death toll since the second world war.
The conflict between warlords and armed rebels for control of these resources have plunged the citizens into a life of poverty, sexual violence, and war. Some 45,000 people die each month as a result.
The actual miners who extract the sought-out treasures have no access to a living wage, societal safety, or simple medical care, while their leaders enrich themselves and allow the misery to continue.
Marcus Bleasdale traces how the west’s consumer appetite for these resources have led to such sub-human conditions for the Congolese, and poses that we might make a difference — at the jewelry counter — simply by asking: where does that ring come from?