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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid