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U Gambira held in solitary confinement

Mar 18, 2008 (DVB), All-Burmese Monks Alliance leader U Gambira has been put in solitary confinement in Insein prison, where he is currently being held, according to family members.

U Gambira's sister Ma Khin Thu Htay, who visited him on Monday in Insein prison, said the 27-year-old monk had been put into solitary confinement in a cell inside the prison’s main ward on 14 March for unknown reasons.

"During my visit to him yesterday, he told me he was moved into cell (4) of the main prison’s ward (1) by himself on 14 March at around 5.30pm," she said.

"He said he had no idea why they had put him in solitary confinement."

U Gambira was arrested by government authorities in Magwe division’s Sintgaing township on 4 November 2007 for his role in leading public protests in September.

He was later sent to Insein prison in the former capital Rangoon where he was charged with violations under section 17/1 of the Unlawful Associations Act, section 13/1 of the Burma Immigration (Emergency Provisions) Act for illegal movement across borders, and article 5(j) of the Emergency Provisions Act.

Khin Thu Htay said it is likely that the charges under sections 13/1 and 17/1 will be dropped as Alone township court, where these charges are being heard, has not extended U Gambira's remand.

She added that Hlaing township court, which is handling the hearing for his alleged violation of article 5(j), cancelled his court hearing on Monday.

Khin Thu Htay said that her brother and other monks in Insein prison were continuing to respect the boycott against government officials.

"U Gambira said all the monks detained in Insein prison are still chanting metta, the main activity of the monk protesters during the events of September, and still practicing their boycott of communicating with government authorities," she said.

Monks at a number of monasteries in Burma have taken part in the boycott against the government, with some refusing alms donations from regime officials or passing them on to the poor, and others opting out of government-run monk exams.

The ABMA released a statement on 18 March urging Burmese monks to boycott the government-run Pahtamabyan Dhamma Sriya exams for monks, and not to forget the junta's brutal treatment of monks during the crackdown on public demonstrations last year.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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