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Is it possible that the purchase of Christmas decorations could finance the holocaust? Hannah Lownsbrough | Opinion
When Christmas comes near, luxurious jewelry stamps are getting ready for the yearly money blessing they bring. However, this year buyers will consider their part in supporting the Rohingya tribes' mass murder and will want to join the ten thousand who are turning to quality jewelry merchants to end their relations with the Myanmar army.
At the beginning of December, 75,000 individuals subscribed to an on-line petition in which they asked Cartier to do just that. Cartier reacted quickly, announcing within a few business hours that she had "decided to stop buying precious stones from Myanmar, which will take full effect from 8 December". In the last millennium there was no lack of tales of people faced with problems similar to the terrible Rohingya war.
The apartheid in South Africa, Nazi Germany and the recent genocide in Darfur provide frightening contrasts that make the escalating level of force with which the Rohingya is now confronted terribly surprising. More and more tales of soldiers and vigilantes being driven out of their houses every single working days in a systemic drive for massive executions, rape and home burns.
In any case, the companies were tacitly involved in making a flow of revenue available to the violent criminals. The Myanmar military's participation in the vast exports of precious stones is an important source of revenue. Nearly all high-quality qualities of Java in the whole wide range come from Myanmar and 95% of the world's jewels.
There are no final numbers on the country's output value, but various estimations show that the gemstone and jetting industries are Myanmar's most precious non-renewable resources. Cartier's announcements leave LVMH-owned Bulgari in charge of luxurious jewelry stamps that pass the money on to a army involved in extra-judicial beheading of its own group.
Though Bulgari once boycotted Myanmar gemstones (in accordance with US and EU import bans), this seems to have been tacitly forsaken. Bella Hadid's latest line consists of Myanmar Sapphire, Ruby and Jersey, and super models like Bella Hadid have recently treaded on the scarlet rug burdened by these beads.
While Bulgari has not commentated on the initiative, the website is committed to "socially accountable corporate governance that goes beyond the company's boundaries, promoting ethics and social responsibility throughout the whole value chain". Myanmar's 2017 "responsible jewelry practice" is easy to summarize:
Bulgaria, stop purchasing gemstones from a regimes that has slaughtered thousand and thousand and thousands of its own people. SumOfU members are fighting with the International Campaign for the Rohingya to reduce this flow of revenue to the Myanmar Forces. Our goal is for all jewelry firms to stop sellin' jewelry containing precious stones that are quarried, manufactured or sold by Burma's armed forces businesses - and for them to be clear about what they are doing to ensure that they monitor their engagement appropriately.
They will also call on trading organisations to speak out clearly against the procurement of precious stones from Myanmar. Both Bulgari and his colleagues can hardly say they are astonished by the recent escalating levels of violent conflict in Myanmar. Rohingya abuses in the land are nothing new: they have been described as one of the most oppressed minority groups in the run.
The Human Rights Watch reported that 1982 legislation "effectively denies the Rohingya the opportunity to acquire citizenship". Eight "national races" are recognized in Myanmar. The Rohingya is not one of them, despite a story that goes back at least to the eighth time.
The Rohingya population is also confronted with limitations on free mobility and accessibility to state training and public services. Bulgari, the Bulgari jewelry and luxurious goods label established in 1884, has a story of protection of the weak from prosecution. Balgari followed the Myanmar gem-bycott in 2007 in reaction to action by the army against pro-democracy demonstrators.
However, all this has since LVMH took over the business in 2011 - a France-based luxurious goods firm that includes Louis Vuitton, Dior and Moët & Chandon. Rather than protect the weak, Bulgari now supports the pursuit of the Rohingya Muslims. The disastrous damage of the Rohingya crises is difficult to counter.
Few of the 340,000 Rohingya refugees who have been driven to Bangladesh's centres can count on a steady supply of basic necessities such as nutrition, drinking and health care. Over the longer run, the interruption of their training and the permanent consequences of the traumas of witnesses of genocide have the capacity to shorten their life far into the future:
Myanmar is a complicated country and it will not be easy to find ways to overcome hundreds of years of conflicts and persecutions. But it is much simpler to take clear measures to withdraw funding from the Rohingya tribe in Myanmar who are continuing to use them.