US Senate Bans Import of Burmese Gems

by LALIT K JHA
(irrawaddy.org)

NEW YORK — Exactly one week after the United States House of Representatives passed the Block Burmese Jade Act, the Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved the bill, which blocks American companies from importing gemstones from Burma and expands financial sanctions against the country’s military junta.


The act, which was initially introduced in the Congress last year by late Congressman Tom Lantos, is now being sent to US President George W Bush to sign it into law. In the US Senate, the bill was introduced by Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Bush is expected to sign the Block Burmese Jade Act into law in coming days, knowledgeable sources said.


Graphic showing the main gem producing areas of Burma. The US Senate on Tuesday approved legislation to block gems from Burma entering the US via a third country. (Graphic: AFP)
Welcoming the passage of the bill by the Senate, Congressman Howard L Berman said:
“We cannot allow this (Burmese) regime to prosper financially while they continue to violate the human rights of their own people.” Berman, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced the legislation in the House.

“This bill hits the Burmese leaders where it hurts—in the wallet."

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