For Immediate Release
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) welcomed President Obama‘s executive order keeping the ban on import of gems and jadeite from Burma, helping acknowledge that Burma’s gem industry is rife with exploitation and abuse.
Burma’s military, which has committed brutal attacks against its own people for several decades, profits from the country’s gem trade. PHR has documented patterns of violence in Burma, mostly committed by the military, over the past several years. The ban that was extended today was originally included in the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act of 2008.
Renewing the gem ban will prevent U.S. support for an industry that has been used to harm civilians in Burma. In the same spirit, the Obama administration should ensure that U.S. businesses that now operate in Burma thanks to loosening of sanctions face effective reporting requirements so that they are not enabling human rights violations.
PHR calls on members of Congress to renew the broader import on bans contained in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act, which requires annual Congressional reauthorization. Such a step will give the United States greater leverage to press the government of Burma to make more sustainable progress toward democracy, including the establishment of effective accountability mechanisms for human rights violations.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.