News / Asia

Burma Activist Disappears Says Rights Group

Daniel Schearf
A former monk and leader of Burma's 2007 democracy uprising has disappeared after being re-arrested by police.  Rights groups suspect U Gambira, who led 2007 anti-government protests, was detained to prevent him from supporting popular demonstrations against a China-backed copper mine.

The family of Nyi Nyi Lwin, known as U Gambira, say police arrested him Saturday night at his brother-in-law's house.
 
He was taken to a police station and indicted on charges from January when he broke into monasteries sealed by the previous military government.
 
Police told his family he would be sent to Burma's notorious Insein Prison, but prison officials deny he is there.
 
Bo Kyi is joint secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, Burma.
 
"He was sent to Insein prison.  But, when his brother visited Insein prison yesterday.  Insein prison officers said he was not in Insein prison.  Until now, we do not know where he was taken to, what happened to him," said Bo Kyi. " I have regular communication with his family members.  His family members also do not know where he was taken to now.  They are really worried for him."
 
U Gambira was a main organizer of the 2007 monk-led protests against the military government known as the Saffron Revolution because of the color of their robes.
 
After the military brutally crushed the democracy uprising, he was arrested and sentenced to six decades in prison.
 
But with the change to civilian rule, reformist President Thein Sein released hundreds of political prisoners including U Gambira in January.  
 
Shortly after, he led a group of monks to break locks put on activist monasteries shut down after the 2007 uprising.  
 
He was briefly detained at the time but was not brought up on charges and gave up his robes to become a layman.
 
Rights groups say the arrest and disappearance appears to be a warning for other activist leaders not to get involved in protests against the Letpadaung copper mine, Burma's largest.
 
For three months, residents and monks have demonstrated against the expansion of the China-backed copper mine saying more than 3,000 hectares of land were being taken illegally.
 
On Thursday, dozens were injured, including about 20 monks, when police cleared protest camps at the mine.  
 
Police used water cannons, tear gas, smoke bombs, and - according to activists - incendiary devices that left many with serious burns.
 
Bo Kyi says the crackdown left many monks angry and ready to join demonstrations, which authorities want to prevent.  He says their heavy-handed actions show freedom of assembly is not yet protected.
 
"Actually, we are really difficult to trust the government for the time being because they do not follow their promise, they do not follow the law," he said. "Even though those monks and villagers are doing peaceful demonstration they crack down very brutally and violent way."
 
The crackdown also raised concerns about how police deal with protests against projects backed by the previous military government.
 
The copper mine is a joint Burma-China development that, like most military-backed deals, was carried out with little transparency or public input.
 
As a sign of sincerity to resolve the conflict, Burma's President Thein Sein put opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in charge of an investigation into whether the copper mine should continue.
 
Meanwhile, demonstrators arrested last week in Rangoon calling for an apology for the crackdown were charged Tuesday with inciting unrest and denied bail.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More