I got this email from US Campaign for Burma::
Dear Bay Dah,
We are pleased to write to you with major news: last night the U.S. Congress passed new, enhanced sanctions legislation banning the import of gems from Burma. We want to thank the thousands of you who telephoned, emailed, and met with your members of the House of Representatives and Senate. We also want to acknowledge the hard work carried out by the members of the House and the Senate -- as well as their staff members -- who led this effort.
What Does the Legislation Do?
- This new law closes a gaping loophole in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act that had previously allowed Burmese gems to be sold in the United States, even though most all other imports are banned. The Burmese regime's sale of rubies and jade brings them upwards of $300 million per year -- much of that from unsuspecting American consumers. Now, that will come to an end!
- The law also creates the position of a U.S. "Special Coordinator" for Burma, whose job will be to reach out to other countries to build support for Burma's human rights activists and ultimately seek a peaceful transition to democracy in the country.
Why The Legislation Is Important and Next Steps
- Similar to how "conflict diamonds" help prop up a civil war in Africa, the sale of Burmese rubies and jade funnelled hundreds of millions of dollars to Burma's military dictatorship, financing their reign of terror.
We still have much more work to do -- the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act must be renewed and gems weren't the only source of funds for the military regime -- but for one day we want to pause and celebrate an important step forward.
Aung Din, Jeremy Woodrum, Jennifer Quigley, Thelma Young, Jacqui Pilch
Associated Press: US Congress passes new Myanmar gemstone sanctions bill,
Agence France Presse : US Congress approves legislation to bar Myanmar gems,