Category Archives: Burma

On Burma: “An election alone is not going to change the country.”

This Sunday, by-elections will be held in Burma to fill 45 vacant seats in Burma’s 664-seat parliament. Among those campaigning for a seat is Aung San Suu Kyi. While her election will do little to change the balance of power in a country where the recently amended constitution requires 25% of seated parliamentarians to be […]

Burma’s Blood Rubies

Monday night’s panel discussion at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs went extremely well. It was a sold out program with a variety of interesting questions from audience members. There was a strong consensus that while Burma is showing the flickering signs of reform, much more tangible progress is needed before the US starts lifting […]

Monday, February 27th at 6pm – Panel Discussion on Burma

I’ve been invited to speak as part of a panel discussion on Monday, February 27, 2012, hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. The program is entitled “BLOOD RUBIES: A LENS INTO BURMA” and will focus on recent events in Burma and the role they play with Burma’s lucrative gemstone trade. This public program is […]

Remembering An Activist

Most people have never heard of Thet Nwe. He was one of the 300 political prisoners released earlier this month by the regime in Burma. We hope former General Thein Sein is sincere when he says his government is committed to moving the country towards a healthy democracy. Only time will tell. But Thet Nwe […]

Scores of Political Prisoners Free at Last in Burma

Today is a day many of us in the Burma pro-democracy community have hoped for and worked hard to achieve for so very long. Thein Sein’s military-backed government in Burma announced the release of 651 prisoners currently held in detention. It is unclear how many of these are political prisoners, but several of those released today […]

Dr. Cynthia’s Amazing Work for the People of Burma

While the politics surrounding Burma often takes center stage, the country still suffers from massive humanitarian issues that are a direct consequence of the decades of iron-fisted rule. Burma spends 3% of its gross domestic product on healthcare but 40% on its military, a sad indicator of the concern shown for the people of Burma […]

Can’t See the (Burmese) Forest for the Trees

This week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Burma, as part of what some have called a “new chapter in relations” with the secretive and often brutal regime. It is true, there have been some measures taken that are not typical for the rulers of this troubled country. But caution needs to be the watchword, […]

Aung San Suu Kyi on Foreign Investment in Burma

“I do not support foreign investments in Burma now,” Aung San Suu Kyi told the president of the Oslocenter, Kjell Magne Bondevik on Thursday. As part of their push to resume business ties with the regime holding power in Burma, a number of gem dealers, along with some news outlets, have been falsely claiming the […]

Child Labor in Burma’s Ruby Trade

When I offered testimony during a Congressional hearing in 2007 on the legislation to ban the import of Burmese rubies, I outlined numerous examples of human rights abuses being committed by the brutal military regime that controlled Burma’s gem trade. This legislation, The Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act of 2008, passed a short time […]

Burmese Ruby: Still banned in the US

Despite an increasing number of Burmese rubies showing up for sale in the United States in recent months, the US sanctions that ban the import of this precious gemstone are still firmly in place. According to the US Department of State, the United States government remains firmly committed to upholding these sanctions until the country’s […]