Amazon, Walmart asked to remove Myanmar gemstone products from their shopping portals

US e-commerce giant Amazon and retail chain Walmart are among the companies urged by activists to remove offers of gems originating from Myanmar, which are a major income stream for the military junta there, from their online sales platforms.

The move by activist group Justice For Myanmar (JFM) comes as an Indian jewelry company, Vaibhav Global Limited, removed all online listings with precious stones from Myanmar, including jade, rubies, sapphires, topazes and amethysts, reacting to an investigation by JFM revealing the company was selling the gems on popular online platforms based in the US, including Amazon.com.

JFM also found that Myanmar gems are sold online by Internet retailer Overstock.com and addressed the company over the issue.

“Wake-up call” for retailers

“Vaibhav Global’s action should also be a wake-up call to ecommerce giants Amazon, Overstock and Walmart,” JFM’s spokesperson Yadanar Maung said, adding that the companies “must take action to end their involvement in this trade that finances the Myanmar military’s atrocities.”

She noted that while Vaibhav Global had withdrawn its listings from the sites of major US retailers, other companies were still selling Myanmar gems on their platforms.

A quick search by Investvine showed that gems from Myanmar are also popular on eBay and widely sold on regional websites such as Lazada, Shopee and JD.com, as well as on Alibaba and AliExpress.

However, legally speaking, in the US such removals would be on a voluntary basis.

While the US has introduced sanctions against Myanmar against junta-controlled Myanma Gems Enterprise, which has also been blacklisted by the US Treasury Department, and military conglomerate Myanma Economic Holdings, which controls jade mines in Kachin state and ruby and sapphire mines in Shan State, Washington has yet to ban the import of gems from Myanmar. Such a ban is included in the Burma Act 2021, which is now before Congress.

“Justice For Myanmar urges members of Congress to stand with the people of Myanmar by passing the Burma Act as soon as possible and prohibit imports of Myanmar gemstones,” Maung said.

Jade industry alone estimated at a value of $31 billion per year

The military has long dominated Myanmar’s jade industry and continues to rake in immense profits.

While exact data is hard to come by, non-profit organisations such as  Global Witness valued Myanmar’s jade industry alone at up to $31 billion a year and described it as “possibly the biggest natural resource heist in modern history.” Identifying the Myanmar military and armed elites as the industry’s biggest profiteers, the exploitation of jade was “an appalling crime that poses a serious threat to democracy and peace in Myanmar,” it said.



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US e-commerce giant Amazon and retail chain Walmart are among the companies urged by activists to remove offers of gems originating from Myanmar, which are a major income stream for the military junta there, from their online sales platforms. The move by activist group Justice For Myanmar (JFM) comes as an Indian jewelry company, Vaibhav Global Limited, removed all online listings with precious stones from Myanmar, including jade, rubies, sapphires, topazes and amethysts, reacting to an investigation by JFM revealing the company was selling the gems on popular online platforms based in the US, including Amazon.com. JFM also found that...

US e-commerce giant Amazon and retail chain Walmart are among the companies urged by activists to remove offers of gems originating from Myanmar, which are a major income stream for the military junta there, from their online sales platforms.

The move by activist group Justice For Myanmar (JFM) comes as an Indian jewelry company, Vaibhav Global Limited, removed all online listings with precious stones from Myanmar, including jade, rubies, sapphires, topazes and amethysts, reacting to an investigation by JFM revealing the company was selling the gems on popular online platforms based in the US, including Amazon.com.

JFM also found that Myanmar gems are sold online by Internet retailer Overstock.com and addressed the company over the issue.

“Wake-up call” for retailers

“Vaibhav Global’s action should also be a wake-up call to ecommerce giants Amazon, Overstock and Walmart,” JFM’s spokesperson Yadanar Maung said, adding that the companies “must take action to end their involvement in this trade that finances the Myanmar military’s atrocities.”

She noted that while Vaibhav Global had withdrawn its listings from the sites of major US retailers, other companies were still selling Myanmar gems on their platforms.

A quick search by Investvine showed that gems from Myanmar are also popular on eBay and widely sold on regional websites such as Lazada, Shopee and JD.com, as well as on Alibaba and AliExpress.

However, legally speaking, in the US such removals would be on a voluntary basis.

While the US has introduced sanctions against Myanmar against junta-controlled Myanma Gems Enterprise, which has also been blacklisted by the US Treasury Department, and military conglomerate Myanma Economic Holdings, which controls jade mines in Kachin state and ruby and sapphire mines in Shan State, Washington has yet to ban the import of gems from Myanmar. Such a ban is included in the Burma Act 2021, which is now before Congress.

“Justice For Myanmar urges members of Congress to stand with the people of Myanmar by passing the Burma Act as soon as possible and prohibit imports of Myanmar gemstones,” Maung said.

Jade industry alone estimated at a value of $31 billion per year

The military has long dominated Myanmar’s jade industry and continues to rake in immense profits.

While exact data is hard to come by, non-profit organisations such as  Global Witness valued Myanmar’s jade industry alone at up to $31 billion a year and described it as “possibly the biggest natural resource heist in modern history.” Identifying the Myanmar military and armed elites as the industry’s biggest profiteers, the exploitation of jade was “an appalling crime that poses a serious threat to democracy and peace in Myanmar,” it said.



Support ASEAN news

Investvine has been a consistent voice in ASEAN news for more than a decade. From breaking news to exclusive interviews with key ASEAN leaders, we have brought you factual and engaging reports – the stories that matter, free of charge.

Like many news organisations, we are striving to survive in an age of reduced advertising and biased journalism. Our mission is to rise above today’s challenges and chart tomorrow’s world with clear, dependable reporting.

Support us now with a donation of your choosing. Your contribution will help us shine a light on important ASEAN stories, reach more people and lift the manifold voices of this dynamic, influential region.

 

 

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