On 15 December, Global Witness reported that the country’s natural resource wealth is proving to be an economic lifeline for the generals. The NGO reveals how the military and other armed actors profit from gemstones, including rubies, sapphires and other coloured stones; and a new investigation reveals for the first time in detail how Myanmar’s gemstone industry is just as problematic as the jade sector. It says that gemstone mining has boomed since the February coup, that thousands of informal miners have filled the void left by the end of official mining, and are being exploited by the military as well as non-state armed groups, and that many of the rubies end up in the multi-billion-dollar gemstone markets of Bangkok, Hong Kong, New York and London. It claims that companies worldwide are hiding behind the complexity of gemstone supply chains, which obscures the origins of stones sold on the global market – and that rubies sourced from Myanmar are being sold by multinational jewellery companies Graff, Van Cleef & Arpels and Pragnell, high-end auctions houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s, and mass market retailers Walmart and Intercolor.
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