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For Immediate Release

United States Extends Ban on Gems and Jade from Burma

Media Contact

Vesna Jaksic Lowe, MS

Media Relations Manager, New York
Tel: 917-679-0110

New York, NY - 08/08/2013

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 an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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