Consequences of Burma’s ‘blood rubies’ shown in Field Museum exhibit

February 27, 2012

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Photo by Christian Holst/Reportage by Getty Images
Uncut ruby weighed at market in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) in Mogok Valley (famous for rubies).
Photo by Christian Holst/Reportage by Getty Images
Two HIV-positive women in a shelter run by the National League for Democracy. Woman on the right helps others in this shelter.
Photo by Christian Holst/Reportage by Getty Images
In 2007, after civilian protesters were arrested or killed, Burmese monks took to the streets during the demonstrations.
Photo by Christian Holst/Reportage by Getty Images
Saw Maung Pwe, an ethnic Karen, lost his eye when a Burmese army patrol spotted him in his fields and shot at him.
Photo by Christian Holst/Reportage by Getty Images
Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy, spent years in and out of house arrest. She was freed 11/13/10.

Burmese rubies generate about $500 million annually. They account for over 90 percent of the global ruby trade. The U.S. bans the rubies because profits benefit Burma’s military junta. But as the junta initiates reforms, observers wonder how long the sanctions will remain. David Mathieson is senior researcher on Burma in Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division. He’s based along the Thailand-Burma border, where he works on various issues related to military rule and repression in the region.  Christian Holst is an award-winning photographer whose work depicting Burma's ruby trade is on display at the Field Museum through May 13. The two discuss Burmese rubies and the country's future in international trade.