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Who's Buying Burma's Gems

Author: Danna Harman, Christian Science Monitor, Published on: 11 March 2008

Over the past five days, jade, rubies, sapphires, and close to $150 million have passed hands here, according to the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd., the consortium that dominates Burma's gemstone trade and is owned by the defense ministry and a clutch of military officers... China, India, Singapore, and Thailand are scooping up Burma's stones. US first lady Laura Bush's efforts at a global boycott of Burma's gems seem to have done little to reduce China's appetite for Burmese jade to make trinkets and souvenirs to sell at the Summer Olympics... According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), Burma's junta owns a majority stake in each of the country's mines – many of them sitting on land confiscated from local communities – sanctioning both unsafe working conditions and forced and child labor... Cartier [part of Richemont], Italy's Bulgari, and...Tiffany & Co., and Leber Jeweler...have announced their own bans on Burma's gems... "The only sanctions that would work would be Chinese," asserts Robert Rotberg, a professor of public policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School... Recently, several Burmese human rights and opposition groups have begun linking China's Burma policy to the upcoming Olympics – a particularly unwanted development for Beijing. [also refers to Myanmar Gem Enterprise]

Read the full post here

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