Image by thisisbossi via Flickr90% of the world's rubies come from Burma (Myanmar) in a region called Mogok. It's known for rare pigeon's blood rubies, blue sapphires and other gemstones.
Foreigners are not allowed there. No wonder as the military regime's disregard for human rights and downright cruelty knows no bounds (see my past post about Burma's Blood Rubies).
Al-Jazeera secretly filmed the goings-on in this area. The network recently released footage showing the forced labor and exploitation of small children as young as 4. It's very sad to see a youngster wielding a mallet instead of playing with a toy.
The video mentions how the workers are paid a pittance - less than a dollar a day. Yet, Burma earned an estimated $1.67 billion in 2010 from gem sales and that is despite sanctions by the US, Canada and the EU. That's because most of Burma's trading partners are actually other Asian countries who have not joined the embargo.
The sanctions are aimed at the ruling junta not the people of Burma but unless they are broad-based, the abuses will go on under cover of even greater security.
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