Gem dealers push to ban Myanmar rubies following bloody crackdown

Myanmar rubies are indisputably the world's finest, but their rich red hue is reminding an increasing number of international gem dealers of the bloody suppression of democracy advocates by the generals running the Southeast Asian country. The military's most recent crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar, beginning in September, has renewed calls to boycott precious stones exported and smuggled out of one of the world's top gem producers. "There is a growing awareness that it is a fascist regime," said Brian Leber, a third generation American gem dealer pushing for a boycott of "blood rubies." "Considering what this regime has done to its own people, we're troubled to see that a precious stone is offering such a great source of cash for them," he said in a telephone interview from the Chicago suburb of Western Springs, Illinois. But a boycott will prove difficult. More than 1,500 people from over 20 countries registered for a gems auction that opened Wednesday, despite the boycott calls.