Thursday, November 22, 2007

Socially responsible shopping

As we finish our stint as socially responsible chefs this holiday, it's time now to become, to quote the Los Angeles Times, "[e]thical holiday shoppers."
Recalling the campaign that's used op-eds, mailings, and even a movie, "Blood Diamond," to raise public awareness of the link between those glittering gems and the gore of civil war, the Times' editorial joins a call to boycott jewels exported by the military regime in the country it names as Myanmar but that others still call Burma. (IntLawGrrls posts here, here, and here.) The Times writes of these "repression rubies":

Myanmar's leaders are unlikely to make real reforms unless they feel a real financial sting. More than 90% of the world's rubies originate in Myanmar, where the junta controls most mines. Most of the gems are bought by Asian merchants, but they are then cut, polished and sold to merchants around the world. Though the United States forbids direct gem imports from Myanmar, they can be sold here if they're processed in a third country. There are three bills in Congress to close that loophole, and leaders in the House and Senate should expedite them. The European Union is also considering its own crackdown on gems from Myanmar.

Credit the Times' call to this release from Human Rights Watch, which, like the Times, notes that high-end retailers like Tiffany & Co., Bulgari, and Cartier already have joined the boycott.


Naomi Norberg said...

I read (perhaps in Wikipedia) that the name Burma comes from the word for the Buddhist majority, of which the ruling military junta is part. Why they changed the name, or what Myanmar "means", I have not yet discovered.

Naomi Norberg said...

When I say "Buddhist majority", I mean the people that make up that majority, the Burmese.