Amnesty Calls for Immediate Release of Former Monk Gambira

By The Irrawaddy 21 January 2016

Rights group Amnesty International on Wednesday called for the immediate and unconditional release of former Buddhist monk U Gambira who was arrested in Mandalay on Tuesday evening on immigration charges.

Gambira appeared at Maha Aung Myay Township Court on Wednesday and was charged with entering the country illegally under Section 13(1) of the 1947 Burma Immigration (Emergency Provisions) Act, according to the rights group.

Amnesty labeled the charges against Gambira, who was a leading figure of the 2007 Saffron Revolution, “contrived, arbitrary and politically motivated” and called on authorities to ensure he is provided with the medicine he requires to manage a medical condition pending his release.

Gambira, also known as Nyi Nyi Lwin, is one of Burma’s most prominent political prisoners. He was arrested for his role in the Saffron Revolution and forcibly disrobed while in detention.

While traveling back and forth between Thailand and Burma since his release in 2012, he has been re-arrested at least four times on various charges largely viewed as spurious.

Gambira had been monitored by Special Branch officers since his arrival in Burma on Friday, Amnesty said, citing a source close to the former monk.

He is now being detained in Mandalay’s Oh Bo prison with a next court hearing scheduled for Feb. 3.

On Wednesday, Gambira’s Australia wife, Marie Siochana, expressed concern over his existing health condition.

“He is mentally ill and needs to take medicine regularly,” she said. “He needs to look after his health, and I wonder why they still want to arrest him.”