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Former monk Gambira arrested for trespassing, vandalism

One of Burma’s most well known dissidents was arrested in Rangoon over the weekend on ‘squatting charges’.

Ashin Gambira (Nyi Nyi Lwin) was detained on 1 December by police from Thingangyun township, according to his younger brother.

The former monk is renown for his role in the 2007 ‘Saffron Revolution’ that was brutally crushed by the then ruling military junta. Gambira was later sentenced to more than 60 years in prison but was released from detention in January’s presidential amnesty.

After he was released from prison earlier in the year, Gambira allegedly broke into several monasteries that had been closed by the government following the crack down on the monk-led protests in 2007.

“He has been [hit] with three different charges – trespassing, vandalism and squatting,” said Gambira’s younger brother Aung Kyaw Kyaw.

According to his brother, Gambira “had nowhere to stay after being released in the amnesty”.

The dissident was held in Thanlyin township before being transferred to Insein Prison.

“The authorities are arresting and violently cracking down on [activists] and are still using the same old tactics which makes us doubt their claim that Burma is now heading towards democracy,” said Aung Kyaw Kyaw. “Not only is this disappointing for people in the country, it’s also very ugly from an international point of view.”

In January’s amnesty, Gambira was released in accordance with Article 401(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, which provides authorities with large amounts of leeway to detain the pardoned individuals again without a warrant and force them to serve the unexpired portion of their sentence.

-Shwe Aung contributed reporting. 


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