The regime that exists in Burma today (I prefer the old spellings) is corrupt, has absolutely no regard for human rights and is deaf to its critics - of which there are an overwhelming number globally. I certainly wish it had eyes with which to see.Answers need to be found.
When I was with HSBC, we opened a representative office in Rangoon - it was certainly not my decision, nor did it meet with my agreement. It was "sold" on the bases that we had to follow our commercial business and that we were not involved in politics. I would have to say "yes - within the bounds of decency" to the first argument, but I disagreed with the second. Whether we like it or not, businesses have to recognise the force of politics in our daily lives.
At a suitable moment in the future, when I did have a say in the decision-making, we closed it down. It was a rep office for our external customers - who, surprisingly didn't turn up in the expected droves for some reason! The decision to close it down, therefore, was unlikely to impact the lives of the citizens of Burma.
We are now seeing recent comments by certain firms, probably globally, but this is one example from the USA, which is gaining accolades from Burma-concerned groups because of a decision they have taken not to buy gems from Burma.
I apologise perhaps for being an old cynic - I've been around too long to take every apparently altruistic comment at face value. Are Tiffany actually saying they will not buy any raw gems from Burma directly from Burma - or are they also saying they will not have their agents buying raw gems from the Burmese at trade fairs in places like Hong Kong, so when challenged they can say "they didn't know". And in any case - do they really believe that this action is going to be so devastating to the despotic leaders of Burma that they will care and change their ways?
It seems to me that the only people who will suffer are the miners and their agents who carry on their trade so they can make a living. But the "warm, glowing feeling" that Tiffany (yes, and others) can derive from their very public statements might, just, help their sales in the run-up to Thanksgiving and Christmas? At the very least, I am sure it won't do their business any harm.
No, I don't see these corporate actions as having a devastating effect on any except the already hard-pressed workers in Burma, even if the actions are genuinely made with the very best of intentions.
But think; if various sovereign powers can invade Iraq, try and tell China what to do about its civil rights and its economy, and invite Burma to join its "club", why can't they un-invite Burma and put pressure on the regime within that country by other, more meaningful means, rather than having some commercial organisations put in measures that will probably not be helpful - except for their seasonal sales