U.S. Burmese Gem Ban Approved by CongressJuly 24, 08
The U.S. Congress this week approved legislation blocking the import of gems from
The legislation, which will keep gemstones from
"We cannot allow this regime to prosper financially while they continue to violate the human rights of their own people," said Howard Berman, Democratic chairman of the House foreign affairs committee. "This bill hits the Burmese leaders where it hurts – in the wallet. It's our hope that these sanctions will push other countries to examine their own financial dealings with
Jewelers of America (JA) issued a statement commending Congress for passing a bill “to amend the Burmese Freedom & Democracy Act of 2003 to include gemstones mined in
”JA welcomes the passage of this important amendment and stands ready to work with the Administration as it moves to implement the new requirements," says JA President and CEO Matthew A. Runci.
JA last fall issued an advisory to its members, detailing its concern about the Burmese military government's human rights violations.
"JA members believe it is their responsibility to support and respect the protection of international human rights within their sphere of influence and to make sure the sourcing of gemstones is not complicit in human rights abuses, in line with the commitments they assume to the association's Statement of Principles," Runci said at the time.
Although an earlier version of the bill was introduced in the fall in response to a violent crackdown by the regime on peaceful protests throughout the country, Congress reconsidered the legislation in the aftermath of the devastating cyclone that ripped through the country in early 2008.