Burma's Blood Rubies Lift Junta

Sale of gems supports the junta's brutality
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2007 9:42 PM CDT
Burma's Blood Rubies Lift Junta
Most of the world's finished rubies originate in Burma, but debate rages about where the profits are really going.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Precious Burmese rubies account for 90% of the world's supply, and fund that nation's brutal military junta, according to Der Spiegel. Though some dealers maintain that ruby sales support the opposition, the German paper reports that profits instead go straight to the junta's coffers. Not only that, but gem miners (including children) work under hellish conditions where bosses mix amphetamines into drinking water to improve yield.

Despite all this, there is little guilt from consumers or middlemen over the rubies, the most exclusive and expensive gemstones in the world. This is in stark contrast to African "blood diamonds," which continue to spark outrage. The US has banned direct import of the gems, but trade is continuing through Thailand thanks to the powerful jewelers' lobby. (Read more Burma protest stories.)

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