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Ashin Gambira, one of Burma’s most well-known dissidents, has been formally indicted at a Mandalay court six weeks after his arrest.
On the same day attention was transfixed on the announcement of the bicameral parliament’s presidential nominees, the former monk and central figure during the 2007 Saffron Revolution was formally charged under Section 13.1 of the Immigration Law at Maha Aungmyay Township court.
Gambira, 36, was arrested in his Mandalay hotel room on 19 January, accused of entering his home country illegally from Thailand. He was travelling with his Australian wife Marie Siochana, who maintains he has been unjustly targeted by Burmese authorities.
In February, Siochana told DVB she and her husband had crossed into Shan State on 15 January, passing through an official checkpoint without questioning.
For his role in the 2007 uprising, the former monk was sentenced to a 68 year jail term, later reduced on appeal to 65 years. He was released as part of a mass prisoner amnesty in 2012, but was arrested several times in 2012 for a variety of minor charges, including ‘squatting’.
Since his release, Gambira has sought treatment for mental health illnesses as a result of his imprisonment, including PTSD. When news broke of his recent re-arrest, his therapist at a Chiang Mai rehabilitation centre decried the detention of his former patient, warning that another stint in jail could harm his long term psychological condition.
Robert San Aung, Gambira’s lawyer, spoke to DVB after their bail application was denied by the court on 3 February.
“This is a restriction of citizens’ rights. Citizens have the right to go wherever they feel like going. If he deserves to be arrested, he should have been arrested in Tachileik, at the beginning. But they didn’t do it. My client didn’t break the law,” he said.
Read more about Ashin Gambira here.