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The brutal military dictatorship that controls Burma showed the world just how thuggish it is when it recently attacked and imprisoned Buddhist monks who had dared to protest peacefully against the regime. To see the military cracking heads and hauling off so many monks was appalling… but what can we do?
Well, you can strike a financial blow against the Burmese oppressors by simply not doing something: Don’t buy gems that are mined in that country.
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Burma is rich in precious gems, producing 95 percent of the world’s rubies and 99 percent of the world’s jadeite, known as “imperial jade.” The military regime there pockets more than a quarter-billion dollars a year from exports of these gems – money that helps fund its bloody repression.
Wait, you say – isn’t it against the law to import Burmese products into the U.S.? Sort of. The raw gems can’t be brought directly here from Burma, but they can be imported indirectly. China, for example, buys raw Burmese rubies and jade, then cuts and polishes them into jewels, which it turns around and sells to U.S. retailers. So, bloody Burmese bling is being sold by American jewelers, ranging from Wal-Mart to Nieman Marcus.
Recently, a watchdog group called U.S. Campaign for Burma launched a national effort to persuade retailers and importers not to buy or sell any jewelry containing Burmese gems. Tiffany’s is the first retailer to agree, and the campaign is now calling on consumers, shareholders, churches, students, and the general public to write letters and emails, make calls and visits, and join local protests and other actions to convince the other jewelry retailers to stop being a conduit for blood money to Burma’s dictators.
To find out what you can do to support “No Burmese Blood Bling,” call the U.S. Campaign for Burma 202-234-8022.
Information provided by U.S. Campaign for Burma, www.uscampaignforburma.org