U Gambira Returned to Jail after Brief Court Hearing

By Zarni Mann 3 February 2016

MANDALAY — Detained former monk U Gambira, a prominent figure in Burma’s 2007 Saffron Revolution, appeared in Mandalay Division’s Maha Aung Myay Township Court on Wednesday on charges of violating immigration laws.

Gambira, also known as Nyi Nyi Lwin, was arrested on Jan. 19 in a Mandalay hotel and remanded in Obo Prison. After a brief court appearance on Wednesday, he was returned to jail, with the next hearing scheduled for Feb. 10.

Known to suffer from mental health issues, Gambira’s family and lawyers have asked that he be released to receive necessary medical treatment.

“The court said it will consider bail for the ailing detainee,” said one of his lawyers, Robert San Aung. “Although the court may think it is a case that does not allow bail, they should give bail to Nyi Nyi Lwin for his health.”

The 36-year-old former monk and political prisoner has been in Thailand receiving treatment for severe mental health issues since his release from a Burmese prison in a general amnesty in 2012. He was serving a sentence for his role in organizing monks in an anti-government uprising in 2007.

Last month, Burmese immigration accused him of crossing the border illegally—a charge the monk’s supporters have dismissed as spurious.

“His mental health needs special care as he needs to take medication at precise times and in specific amounts. He also needs regular exercise and meditation for his health,” said Daw Yay, his mother.

“He is just recovering and we are worried for him. We don’t believe he received proper treatment inside the prison,” she explained. “He is very sick and shouldn’t be in prison. If the government is kind enough, they should look at his case with humanity.”