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Prison as a Political Weapon

Political Prisoners Contributor
The Irrawaddy ...

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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.