News / Asia

Burma Authorities Release Dissident Monk

This January 19, 2012 photo shows U Gambira, leader of the All-Burmese Monks Alliance, after he was released from prison.
This January 19, 2012 photo shows U Gambira, leader of the All-Burmese Monks Alliance, after he was released from prison.
TEXT SIZE - +

Authorities in Burma briefly detained a prominent dissident monk Friday, less than a month after he was released from jail along with dozens of other political prisoners.  A rights group monitoring the situation said U Gambira’s detention appeared to be a warning for the former prisoners not to get involved in politics.  

Witnesses say several Burmese officials  took U Gambira from a monastery in Rangoon before dawn. A sister of the monk told VOA's Burmese service several hours later that her brother had been released unharmed at a Rangoon monastery.

She said she had not seen her brother since his release and did not know why he was arrested.

The religious affairs and special branch police gave little information about the apprehension, saying only that the 31-year-old monk was wanted for questioning.

Bo Kyi is founder of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners Burma (AAPB), a Thailand-based monitoring group.  He says authorities have no legal reason to detain U Gambira, whom he referred to using the honorific “Shin,” given to monks.

“That should not be because Shin Gambira did not do anything as far as we know," said Bo Kyi. "So, therefore there is no reason to be taken…taking him to the questions.”

Since his release in January, U Gambira has spoken out against the military-backed civilian government and expressed doubts that it is becoming a real democracy.

Reports say he was also attempting to reopen monasteries that authorities closed after the 2007 democracy protests known as the Saffron Revolution, because of the color of robes worn by monks.

U Gambira and other monks led the protests but the military violently ended the movement and jailed him and hundreds of others.  

U Gambira was sentenced to more than 60 years in prison.

Most political prisoners in recent months were released under general amnesties, part of the civilian-led government’s reform efforts.

But their freedom is conditional.  If convicted of a crime, their previous sentence can be reinstated, forcing them to serve out the remaining time.

Bo Kyi says U Gambira’s detention is likely meant as a warning to other recently released political dissidents.

“If the Burmese government really wants national reconciliation, and then really wants the people to trust them, they need to recognize the existence of political prisoners and release them as soon as possible unconditionally," said Bo Kyi. "That is the first step they need to do.  Otherwise it is really difficult to get like the trust by the people, both domestic and international.”

The release of all political prisoners is a key demand by western nations for lifting economic sanctions against Burma.

Burmese authorities refuse to officially recognize political prisoners and say all prisoners of conscience have been released.

The AAPB estimates there are more than 800 still locked up for opposing military rule while other estimates put the figure at around 300.

A civilian-led government last year replaced decades of military rule and began implementing political and economic reforms.

But observers debate whether the military is still in charge, and if reforms are genuine or designed to get sanctions and Burma's pariah status lifted.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid