Burma: Human Rights Watch says sales of gems "fund military repression" - calls for boycott

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Article
12 January 2008

Burma: Boycott Gems Funding Military Repression

Author: Human Rights Watch

Consumers and merchants should not buy jade, rubies, and other gems from Burma until the military government ends its repression, which is partly funded by gem sales, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch called for a boycott in advance of a gem auction scheduled from January 15 to 19 in Rangoon...[and] organized by the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Company Ltd., a military conglomerate.

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Article
1 January 2008

Burma’s Gem Trade and Human Rights Abuses

Author: Human Rights Watch

Burma produces the vast majority of high-quality rubies on the world market... It is also the top global producer of jade... Burma’s gem mines are ruled with an iron hand by military authorities and mining companies. Deplorable conditions at the mines reportedly include rampant land confiscation, extortion, forced labor, child labor, environmental pollution and unsafe working conditions for miners... The country’s gem industry is dominated by the Burmese military, which benefits financially from exports. The military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Company (UMEH) operates as a conglomerate that owns many businesses in Burma, including in the lucrative gem-mining sector... In October 2007, the Jewelers of America, an industry association, issued an unprecedented call to US Congress to fully ban Burmese gems... [Refers to voluntary boycotts of Burmese gems by Tiffany, Leber Jewelers, Bulgari, Cartier (part of Richemont). Also refers to Myanmar Gems Enterprise, Myanmar Economic Corporation]

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