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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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