Friday, 31 July 2009

Ruby battles

I wrote about rubies - specifically the horrors behind the mining of Burmese gems - last year, but today another story about ethical issues in ruby mining came my way.
An outline of the Free Greenland Ruby campaign is as follows:

A legal war is waging in Greenland as the native Inuit Greenlanders fight for their rights to prospect for the ruby through small-scale, responsible mining just as their ancestors have done for centuries.
On 16th August 2007, native Inuit Greenlanders were arrested for mining ruby. True North Gems (TNG), a Canadian mining company, informed on the Inuit to the local police who were told by The Bureau for Minerals and Petroleum (BMP) to stop them prospecting for ruby - even though this violated the Danish Government's own Mineral Code and the UN Declaration of Human & Indigenous Rights.
Soon after, there was a clamp down across the island on the rights of indigenous people to mine. Mr. Lars Lund Sorensen, the head of a division at the Minerals Office at the time, said:
"We don’t want your sort of people having access to this kind of wealth."
The BMP then set about hiring lawyers who would twist interpretations of Danish laws to cover up their behaviour and protect the interests of TNG. They even instructed the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute local people but offered to drop charges against miners if they signed paperwork stating they will not mine again. Where this bribe was refused, they issued fines.

The campaign is being promoted in the UK by Greg Valerio of Cred ethical jewellers, and there's a petition on the campaign website.

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