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Congress Bans Burmese Gems

July 23, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Finally, Congress has taken action against the military Junta of Burma. The Block Burmese Jade Act has been pending in Senate since last October, around the time when the military crackdown of protesters was at its worst. The bill will close a loophole that allows American importers to skirt U.S. sanctions and import regime-funding gems from Burma via third-party countries.

Irrawaddy:

>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.
>
>Stopping US sales of these Burmese gems is expected to prevent the Burmese regime from earning hundreds of millions of dollars each year. The bill also makes Burmese regime leaders, military officers and their families ineligible for visas to the United States.

The original version of the bill would have put pressure on Chevron to get out of Burma by ending tax breaks that have fueled its natural gas project there and banning payments to the military junta through any of its joint ventures. But, as Mike Lillis reports at the Washington Independent, the provisions aimed at punishing Chevron were dropped because of objections from lawmakers bowing to the oil company’s influence.

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