Tell Harry Winston: Stop Selling Burmese Genocide Gems

Nayla Hayek, CEO of Harry Winston, Inc.

20-07_hpakant_kachin_jade_mine_mudslide_bodies_-_ap_photo_zaw_moe_htet
AP Photo - Zaw Moe Htet

Tell Harry Winston to stop buying genocide gems from Burma (Myanmar).

For decades, Myanmar’s military has committed numerous war crimes against ethnic minorities in Burma including the Karen, Shan, and Kachin. The military has systematically burned down villages, gang-raped women and girls, and killed those who resist. Moreover, Myanmar now stands at the International Court of Justice on charges of genocide against the Rohingya. Together, we can demand that Jewellery retailers, such as Harry Winston, stop buying Burmese gems that help fund the military’s atrocities against the peoples of Myanmar.

Myanmar produces more than 90% of the world’s rubies and jade, and these stones command the highest prices on the international market. The military dominates the gemstone industry in Myanmar. Its extensive commercial interests in gemstone extraction and trade mean that the military profits when high-end jewelry retailers – like Harry Winston (owned by Swatch) – buy Burmese gems for their collections.

The United Nations-mandated International Independent Fact-Finding Mission urged the international community to "sever ties with Myanmar's military and the vast web of companies it controls and relies on" as "any foreign business activity involving the Tatmadaw (military) and its conglomerates MEHL and MEC poses a high risk of contributing to, or being linked to, violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. At a minimum, these foreign companies are contributing to supporting the Tatmadaw's financial capacity."

Call on Harry Winston to stop purchasing gems that fund the Burmese military’s atrocities.

Harry Winston item featuring Burmese gems

Ruby and Diamond ring by Harry Winston

"A 20.25 carat oval-shaped Burmese ruby center stone with 28 round brilliant diamonds weighing a total of approximately 4.64 carats, set in platinum."

More Information:

"The Profit Motive: Myanmar’s ‘Shock Troopers’ of Rohingya Ethnic Cleansing Linked to Jade Mining Disaster that Killed Hundreds," Steve Shaw, Byline Times, 8 September 2020

"Jade-rich Tatmadaw general to investigate deadly Hpakant mine disaster," Danny Fenster, Myanmar Now, 7 July 2020

"Will Myanmar’s ‘Genocide Gems’ Become the New Blood Diamonds?," BusinessWeek,  October 17, 2018

"No Genocide Gems! Burmese Military Takes a Hit From Citizens Sanctions," International Campaign for the Rohingya blog

Justice for Myanmar - Justice For Myanmar is a campaign to provide a platform for those unjustly persecuted by the Myanmar military – regardless of class, religion, gender or ethnic identity in their efforts to seek justice and end military impunity in Myanmar. The campaign works to expose the Myanmar military’s businesses’ link to human rights violations across the country.

The economic interests of the Myanmar military,” United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission, September 2019

"Multifacted: Governance and Conflict Risks in Myanmar's Ruby Industry," Natural Resource Governance Institute, March 2018

"Natural Resource Federalism: Considerations for Myanmar," Natural Resource Governance Institute, January 2018

Taint of Burma's Genocide Gems, The Sunday Times (UK), December 10, 2017

Jade and the Generals, Global Witness, May 17, 2017


To: Nayla Hayek, CEO of Harry Winston, Inc.
From: [Your Name]

We are writing to express our concern with Harry Winston’s use of Burmese gems in its collection in light of the Burmese military deep involvement in the extraction and trade of gems in Myanmar.

For decades, Myanmar’s military has committed numerous war crimes against ethnic minorities in Burma including the Karen, Shan, and Kachin. The military has systematically burned down villages, gang-raped women and girls, and killed those who resist. Moreover, Myanmar now stands at the International Court of Justice on charges of genocide against the Rohingya.

Myanmar produces more than 90% of the world’s rubies and jade, and these stones command the highest prices on the international market. The military dominates the gemstone industry in Myanmar. Its extensive commercial interests in gemstone extraction and trade mean that the military stands to profit when high-end jewelry retailers use Burmese gems in their collections.

In recognition of the risk to the company’s brand image, both Tiffany & Co. and Cartier have adopted policies of not purchasing or using Burmese gems.

We commend Harry Winston's commitment to responsible business practices and the ethical sourcing of gems. However, we believe that effectuating this commitment requires avoiding the purchase of any gems mined in Myanmar that provide profits to the Burmese military.

Your responses to the following questions are appreciated.

1. Do you have any knowledge as to where Harry Winston's Burmese rubies, jade, and sapphire were mined?
2. Would Harry Winston adopt a policy of not purchasing gems mined in Myanmar?
3. How would your company best communicate and implement this policy with your suppliers?

We look forward to learning how Harry Winston will ensure that, in the future, its pieces are completely free of gems whose trade benefits the Burmese army.