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Burma’s Gem Trade and Human Rights Abuses

Author: Human Rights Watch, Published on: 1 July 2008

Burma produces a variety of gems but is most famous for its rubies and jade... In addition, Burma produces and exports a variety of other precious and semi-precious stones, including sapphires and spinel... [The] beauty of Burmese gems is marred by their association with serious human rights abuses... The [ruling party]...has a direct ownership interest in many of the country’s top gem businesses, including state-run firms such as the Myanmar Gems Enterprise and Myanmar Pearl Enterprise... In addition, a military-owned conglomerate, the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Company (UMEH), owns many businesses in Burma, including in the lucrative gem-mining sector... A few jewelry retailers, notably Tiffany & Co. and Leber Jeweler Inc, have long refused to purchase gems of Burmese origin. In reaction to the bloody crackdown in Burma, several European and US jewelry companies – including Bulgari and Cartier [part of Richemont] – also voluntarily pledged to boycott Burmese gems. [also refers to Myanmar Ruby Enterprise, Myanmar Imperial Jade]

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Related companies: Bulgari Cartier (part of Richemont) Leber Jeweler Myanma Gem Enterprise Richemont Tiffany Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings (UMEHL)