The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
November 16, 2007

Statement by Mrs. Bush

The Burmese regime has just opened a gem show in Rangoon. The sale of gems is the regime's third largest source of revenue. These funds prop up the regime, allowing it to continue to harass, arrest, and sentence peaceful activists who seek freedom of speech, worship, and assembly.

Even as United Nations Special Advisor Ibrahim Gambari and U.N. Human Rights Rapporteur Paulo Pinheiro were in Burma to help start a dialogue toward national reconciliation, the regime continued its crackdown. Despite statements that arrests had ended, the regime arrested Su Su Nwe, an ailing activist who continues to risk her life to press for change. The junta also arrested and reportedly sentenced U Gambira, a brave and respected monk, for treason.

Those who support freedom and justice for the Burmese people should not help fill the regime's coffers at this gem show. I applaud the Jewelers of America and member companies such as Tiffany and Cartier for taking a stand against the importation of Burmese gems. I urge others in the industry, both in the U.S. and worldwide, to join in this important effort and refuse to have the trade in Burmese gems prop up the Burmese regime. Consumers throughout the world should consider the implications of their purchase of Burmese gems. Every Burmese stone bought, cut, polished, and sold sustains an illegitimate, repressive regime.

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