Saturday, October 30, 2010

Beware of Burmese bearing gifts

This morning, I was skulking around the depths of Hanoi's National Convention Centre, which is hosting the Asean and East Asian Summits, when I saw an intriguing sight.

A very well presented woman in a traditional Burmese longyi, was trying to gain access to the office of the United Nations delegation, with a large package.

The woman, escorted by a rather less well presented male Burmese diplomat, had a present for Ban Ki Moon, it transpired.

She told me it was a "painting made out of precious stones".

Unfortunately, the UN had already left the building.

Presuming the painting is eventually passed on to Mr Ban, I wonder what he will do with it, given that Burma's gem trade is reliant on forced labour, child labour and land confiscation, according to NGOs such as Human Rights Watch.

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