Luxury brand Bulgari under fire for using “genocide gems” from Myanmar

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Italian high-end jewelry maker Bulgari is feeling the heat from human rights activists for continuing to buy and use gems from Myanmar. By doing that, the Rome-based company stands accused of providing the Myanmar military with financial means to conduct attacks against the Rohingya minority in the West of the country in a brutality which has been condemned rigorously by many countries all over the world.

Activist group The International Campaign for the Rohingya (ICR) is now collecting signatures online for a petition calling on Bulgari to stop buying “genocide gems” from Myanmar.

“Myanmar’s military forces are carrying out a textbook example of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya people. Standing together, we have the power to cut off the military’s financing: we can demand that Bulgari stop using Burmese gems that help fund the military’s crimes against humanity,” the petition reads.

“We can cut off the funding for these crimes against humanity at their source: the high-end jewelry retailers profiting off of these atrocities,” it adds, noting that Myanmar produces more than 90 per cent of the world’s rubies and jade, and these stones command the highest prices on the international market.

“The military dominates the gemstone industry in Myanmar. Its extensive commercial interests in gemstone extraction and trade mean that the military stands to profit when high-end jewelry retailers – like Bulgari – use Burmese gems in their collections,” the petition, addressed at Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of Bulgari Group goes on.

The jewelry industry’s troubles with Myanmar gems are not new. In 2007, Bulgari – which also sources gemstones from places like India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar and South Africa joined competitors Tiffany & Co. and Cartier in boycotting Myanmar gems in response to public pressure and US sanctions. However, when sanctions on Myanmar gems were lifted in 2016, Cartier and Bulgari began buying them again.

Then, in December 2016,, Cartier responded to public pressure by announcing that it would again stop buying gems from Myanmar. According to ICR, this highlights the importance of “citizen sanctions” in sending a message to the Myanmar military.

ICR’s petition is part of its larger “No Business With Genocide” campaign, which seeks to pressure corporations to refrain or withdraw from doing business with regimes that engage in genocide or crimes against humanity. For example, the group also asked Malaysia’s oil and gas giant Petronas to withdraw from Myanmar in order to “send a strong political and economic signal to the government of Myanmar that it must end its repression and violence against the [Muslim] Rohingya.”

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Italian high-end jewelry maker Bulgari is feeling the heat from human rights activists for continuing to buy and use gems from Myanmar. By doing that, the Rome-based company stands accused of providing the Myanmar military with financial means to conduct attacks against the Rohingya minority in the West of the country in a brutality which has been condemned rigorously by many countries all over the world.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Italian high-end jewelry maker Bulgari is feeling the heat from human rights activists for continuing to buy and use gems from Myanmar. By doing that, the Rome-based company stands accused of providing the Myanmar military with financial means to conduct attacks against the Rohingya minority in the West of the country in a brutality which has been condemned rigorously by many countries all over the world.

Activist group The International Campaign for the Rohingya (ICR) is now collecting signatures online for a petition calling on Bulgari to stop buying “genocide gems” from Myanmar.

“Myanmar’s military forces are carrying out a textbook example of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya people. Standing together, we have the power to cut off the military’s financing: we can demand that Bulgari stop using Burmese gems that help fund the military’s crimes against humanity,” the petition reads.

“We can cut off the funding for these crimes against humanity at their source: the high-end jewelry retailers profiting off of these atrocities,” it adds, noting that Myanmar produces more than 90 per cent of the world’s rubies and jade, and these stones command the highest prices on the international market.

“The military dominates the gemstone industry in Myanmar. Its extensive commercial interests in gemstone extraction and trade mean that the military stands to profit when high-end jewelry retailers – like Bulgari – use Burmese gems in their collections,” the petition, addressed at Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of Bulgari Group goes on.

The jewelry industry’s troubles with Myanmar gems are not new. In 2007, Bulgari – which also sources gemstones from places like India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar and South Africa joined competitors Tiffany & Co. and Cartier in boycotting Myanmar gems in response to public pressure and US sanctions. However, when sanctions on Myanmar gems were lifted in 2016, Cartier and Bulgari began buying them again.

Then, in December 2016,, Cartier responded to public pressure by announcing that it would again stop buying gems from Myanmar. According to ICR, this highlights the importance of “citizen sanctions” in sending a message to the Myanmar military.

ICR’s petition is part of its larger “No Business With Genocide” campaign, which seeks to pressure corporations to refrain or withdraw from doing business with regimes that engage in genocide or crimes against humanity. For example, the group also asked Malaysia’s oil and gas giant Petronas to withdraw from Myanmar in order to “send a strong political and economic signal to the government of Myanmar that it must end its repression and violence against the [Muslim] Rohingya.”

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