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 Post subject: "Spiegel" Article on Burma Rubies
PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 11:26 am 
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The article from well known Germany´s "Spiegel"- Magazine linked below might be interesting for those who wonder where the money goes to when they buy a Burma Ruby. Actually we all know it, but nobody talks about it. At least the consumers, as I predicted a few weeks ago, are now getting aware of the shadows of the gem trade now, while traders still are quiet on the issue.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/wor ... 10,00.html

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 1:20 pm 
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This is sadly the dilemma we must face in buying goods produced in third world countries: buy them and a man will be exploited as a slave, don't buy them and he'll be free to suffer hunger an thirst.

If you have time, this is the Nobel lecture of 2006 Peace laureate prof. Muhammad Yunus.

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peac ... cture.html

A moving message of hope and an encouraging success as well.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 1:18 am 
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the spiegel article also mentions the american regulations which do not allow burma rubies to be imported directly from the country but turns a blind eye if imported from a third country i.e. thailand in most cases.

so, what are we (traders) gonna do?

the article says the local population is being exploited in government owned mines. now i have never been to mogok or mong hsu personally because of the red tape, the costs involved and because i did not want to sponsor the regime with the fees for permits, escorts etc.
i had the impression, though, that pretty much of the ruby trade is being conducted by bypassing the government. i was not buying any ruby on my burma trip but it looked as if it was fairly easy to get rubies from non-government sources.

has anybody in this forum ever done so and can give a clear account of how things work over there?

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 4:52 am 
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I remember the days when South Africa was boycotted by the whole world.
The people the world wanted to suffer didn't suffer at all. The little guy suffered because he lost his job as the well meaning world boycotted the apples and grapes he picked to earn a living.
We all know of human rights abuses in e.g. China. Yet we are all keen to buy cheap Chinese products produced by slave labour under inhumane conditions. We also buy gems from China.
We worry about a few Burmese rubies? Not all rubies and spinels which get sold support only the generals.
Ursula


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 Post subject: trade is good
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 6:30 am 
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We are only a small fish in a big pond, but I have yet to see a good ruby (or any other gem) coming out of official government channels!

In my opinion a gem boycott only hurts the locals.

(A oil/gas boycott by Thailand, on the other hand, would break the bad guys in a sec, but the Thais don't like to hear of it. A boycott of Thailands tourism industry is hence a better idea).

The Spiegel-typical story about miners on amphetamines is laughable.

For us I can say, that no ruby dollar goes to the generals. The only place where we leave money to the government is in hotels where we are forced to pay in cash dollars.

I hear the generals have a better grip on the jade trade but I don’t know much about it.

Thoughts on fair gem trade, dictators, terrorism and the 3rd world here and here.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 8:21 am 
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I have read quite a few articles and heard people claim that the mines are run by the military under slave conditions. This is completely misleading and incorrect. Most of these articles are written by people who have never visited Burma or a gem mine in their life. I have yet to see any of these articles produce photographs or video footage of the drug crazed mining ‘slaves’ being forced to work by the military to back up their stories.

The gem mining operations in Burma are in fact all run by joint operations (partnerships) between the government and private companies or individuals. Any Burmese person or company can set up a joint venture. The majority of the proceeds from the sale of the gems go to the private companies and individuals. This goes for all gem mining in Burma, not just in Mogok. Any sanctions or boycott would hurt the people (and their families) who are doing the mining and gem dealing, far more than the military.

If you want a true picture of gem mining in Mogok I recommend you read the forthcoming book Gems & Mines of Mogok by Ted Themelis. The book goes into great detail about all the mining areas in the Mogok valley, the geology, the politics and who gets what. There are many years of research behind this book. I doubt there is a single armchair journalist out there who could claim the same amount of research.

For those who are interested in the facts, Gems & Mines of Mogok is currently being printed and should be available in the next few weeks.

P.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 11:40 am 
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All,

Unlike most of those commenting and writing on Ruby Mining in Burma, I have purchased rubies in Burma and visited the mines at Mogok.
See part I of my three part blog: Along The Burma Road
http://gemwiseblogspotcom.blogspot.com/ ... alay.htmlI

I can recall sitting in an office of one of the Joint-ventures directly under the hairy eyeball of a fellow dressed in a major's uniform who watched everything we did. It was conducted similarly to any other place in the world, brokers came in, often with just a single stone, we looked the stones over and made offers. What was the broker's cut? I don't know but they all seemed anxious to sell.

I also bought rubies in small workshops, private homes, above a bakery and in a hotel lobby. The atmosphere would seem familiar to anyone who has ever worked out of a buying office in Teofilo Otoni, Brazil or Aryusha in Tanzania. No unsavory characters in mirror-sunglasses lurking on street corners.

The mines we visited, we did have an official guide, seemed like gem mines in other parts of the world. There were no chain gains, overseers with whips or skeletal miners with hunger haunted eyes.

There were also at least three gem markets that looked like gem markets and there were no police, guards or soldiers. Its difficult to believe that any of this was regulated.

On my last trip, my broker, a native Shan from Mogok could not get a permit for me to visit. The general he normally bribed was in prison. So, guess the army is tightening up. However, he did manage to get a shabbily dressed fellow with a dirty cloth parcel of 5 pigeon blood rubies to come down from Mogok and meet us in Mandalay. Did this guy go back and pay off the army. I sincerely doubt it.

You have not seen true poverty until you have visited a place like Burma.
Even recent articles have noted that about half the rubies are sold through official channels and half smuggled. That means you have a 50/50 chance that your ruby is supporting the government and a 50/50 chance that it is putting bread in the mouth of some poor miner. Thats the problem with boycotts, they make us feel good but half the time we are part of the problem the other half of the time we are part of the solution.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 6:49 pm 
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Ursula wrote:
The people the world wanted to suffer didn't suffer at all. The little guy suffered because he lost his job as the well meaning world boycotted the apples and grapes he picked to earn a living.


I think the thing isn't done as much to hurt the ruling people as to make a statement that clear any concience faults from the minds of the electors, while still retaining trade benefits, rather than to make any real change. If you'd been serious about changing things, then you'd cut off weapon/petrol/electricity supply to the country in question.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 7:24 pm 
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Wasn't Richard Hughes writing a book about the history of mining in Burma?

Anyone knows what's up ?


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 2:39 am 
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Richard, your Arguments and your first hand reports from the buying trips to Burma are shading more light on the issue than the initial article did.

I sent a link of this thread to the Spiegel - people, so they can add some informations to their recherches. Even if there will be no more articles published about the matter, the reporters should read your wise words in order to see that there are always two sides of every coin.

Still I´m happy, that a disussion on this started off, since I found it frightening, that nobody talked about the obvious for so long

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 Post subject: then you'd cut off weapon/petrol/electricity supply to the
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 7:07 am 
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Whatever you cut off boycotts will only ever hurt the little guy and not the fat cat. Cut off electricity and the big guy will use a generator. The other one can hardly afford a candle.
No doubt the generals benefit from gems, but so do many private miners who can feed their families from the proceeds of the stone you buy from them.
If we don't buy Burmese gems, many people will be even more needy.
Many of my Burmese stones come from a source who financed medical treatment with the money. It would not have been possible otherwise.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 11:31 am 
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Hi,

Buying gems from Burma is like buying tulips from Holland or software from the USA.
No difference atall.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 11:36 am 
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Care to explain that one?


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 11:55 am 
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Quote:
Buying gems from Burma is like buying tulips from Holland or software from the USA.
No difference atall.


Heh?

Maybe I am too silly to understand the intellectual connection in that.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 2:19 pm 
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Quote:
Heh?

Maybe I am too silly to understand the intellectual connection in that


Oh Nikolaus,

You just made Doos' day

He spends ages thinking up things designed to make us all feel inadequate. The best defense (As Africanuck definately knows) is not to think about it at all but simply to ask him to explain it

Quote:
Care to explain that one?


He gives me homework which makes my hair ache sometimes :lol:

be well Nikolaus, Doos & Africanuck

Frank


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