John Lewis Partnership, a highly regarded department store chain selling a wide range of products, has informed Burma Campaign UK that it will stop sourcing gems from Burma.
Burma Campaign UK had written to John Lewis and around 40 other retailers asking them to ensure that if they sell gems from Burma, they make sure the gems they sell have not helped fund the Burmese military.
In an email received on 25th July 2023, John Lewis stated: “We remain extremely concerned to learn of developments around the conflicts that have taken place, and that continues to take place in recent years in Burma/Myanmar…Our suppliers source a very small proportion of gems from Burma/Myanmar but we are in the process of urgently seeking alternative sources of supply.”
The decision by John Lewis follows TJC, one of the biggest TV shopping channels and online jewellery retailers in the UK, telling Burma Campaign UK it was withdrawing Burmese gems from sale.
Following the attempted military coup, which began in February 2021, the Burmese military now dominates Burma’s gems industry, which is potentially worth $2bn per year. Through its own private companies, control of the state-owned enterprises and government ministries, control of trade routes into areas not under its control, legal and illegal trade, and the business interests of military family members, the Burmese military extracts revenue from the gems industry in numerous ways.
Burma Campaign UK is not calling for a blanket ban on Burmese gems. We are calling on companies to make sure the gems they sell haven’t been sourced in a way that provides money to the military and helps pay for weapons and the human rights violations committed by the Burmese military.
“John Lewis have done the right thing by deciding to stop sourcing from Burma,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “Retailers must ensure that the gems they sell haven’t helped pay for the bombs and the bullets the Burmese military are using against the people of Burma.”