Prison as a Political Weapon

An aerial view of Insein Prison (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

An aerial view of Insein Prison (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

After releasing hundreds of political prisoners over the past year, Burma’s nominally civilian government is still using the threat of jail time to keep dissidents at bay, raising doubts about its commitment to reform.

Most recently, famous former monk U Gambira was imprisoned in Rangoon’s infamous Insein Prison this month after participating in protests against a police crackdown on anti-copper mine demonstrators in northwest Burma.

The Nov. 29 crackdown on demonstrators near the Letpadaung mine in Sagaing Division left nearly 100 monks injured, in the government’s most brutal reaction to civil disobedience since reformist President Thein Sein took over in March 2011.

Gambira was released earlier this week after paying about US $4,600 in bail.

Eight other activists, pictured here, were also released. They had been arrested and put in Insein for their role in another protest in November.

Political prisoners who received amnesty over the past year have been granted conditional release, meaning they can be re-arrested for resuming political activities that violate existing laws, including those which ban activities threatening the peace and dignity of the nation.

3 Responses to Prison as a Political Weapon

  1. $ 4,600 to bail him out? If peaceful protester faces this kind of treatment from the government, Burma is no way near to Democracy. U Gambira must file counter suit against government. Extra-judicial arrest and detention must keep going on unless the persons like U Gambira teach them some lesson.

  2.   If so-called Thein Sein’s Administration or Govt. really going to the Road to Democracy they should not used the Method of Prison as a Political Weapon . Once,President Botha from South Africa used the same way to  Nelson Mandela. Not successful at all.They put Veteran Journalist U Win Tin for 20 long years without reason. Such as a lot of Political Prisoners were wasting their lives,wasting their young age (  88 Heroes Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi etc.) Even Many  Political Prisoners were tortured, beaten and died of failing Health in Prison. Not only Insein is Notorious , A lot of Prison in the Whole Burma are Notorious. If Then Sein’s Govt really want to be Legitimate Govt. they should listen what the People and the Monks’s said. If you are still acting  above the Law there will be no Solution. Why not ask US President Obama for good Advice ? The Last Straw will break the Camel’s back.

  3. A political prisoner is someone who is out fighting for his or her people’s rights and freedom and is imprisoned for that alone.

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