By SAW YAN NAING
The Irrawaddy News
Burmese pro-democracy activists are calling for a boycott of jade during the Olympic Games in Beijing, claiming the event could boost demand for stones mined in Burma.
Cristina Moon, an activist for the New York-based “8-8-08 for Burma” campaign said that while her organization was pleased to know that official souvenirs would not be made of Chinese jade, “there is a growing demand for Burmese jade that will increase due to the Olympic promotion of jade. The generals will keep using their jade profits to buy weapons and crush dissent in Burma unless individuals take a stand.”
Jade sales are Burma’s third highest source of foreign income.
At least 90 percent of jadeite on sale in China comes from Burmese mines, which are controlled and operated by the Burmese regime and its business partners, according to a report titled: Blood Jade: Burmese Gemstones & the Beijing Games.
The report, released on Monday by an ethnic activists group, the All Kachin Students and Youth Union (AKSYU) and the “8-8-08 for Burma Campaign,” says the Burmese government earns about US $300 million (348 billion kyat) yearly from the export of jade, mainly to China.
Naw La, a Kachin environmentalist and member of the AKSYU, said the expansion of jade mining in Kachin State had led to land confiscation, forced relocation and environmental destruction.
“Our mountains have disappeared and our youth are dying,” he said. “The generals are letting their cronies mine away our future.”