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Published on Oct 31, 2007
Jewels of the junta. Most of the world's finished rubies origiate in Burma.
It is well known how the proceeds from sales of diamonds or oil can subsidize civil war and corrupt regimes, but less well known is how the international ruby trade sustains the Burmese junta.
The United States and Europe each responded to Myanmar's violent repression of peaceful protesters with tightened trade limitations in their relations with the pariah in Southeast Asia, but were easily circumvented by gem dealers.
Outside of bilateral sanctions, there are no restrictions on ruby sales, unlike the Kimberley Process, designed to combat "conflict diamonds." Because the origin of any gem is often unclear or unspecified, most consumers have no idea whether their ruby purchase supports minorities, rebels, or the corrupt and violent Burmese regime.
Demand for the "fiery gems" combined with ignorance about their source keeps brutal governments in place and contributes to the suffering of millions.