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Burma: Junta Charges Monks' Leader With Treason

Press Release: Terry Evans

3 December

Burma: Junta Charges Monks' Leader With Treason

The leader of the All-Burma Monks Alliance (ABMA) has been arrested and charged with treason for his role in the September pro-democracy demonstrations. Treason is a capital crime in Burma. If convicted and executed, 27 year-old U Gambira would be the first monk to be put to death in Burma since the British colonial rulers hanged a monk who lead a rebellion 70 years ago.

U Gambira was instrumental in getting tens of thousands of monks onto the streets in peaceful protests during September. The anti-regime demonstrations, which began over the peoples' agitation against the fuel price hike in mid-August, came to an abrupt end after a brutal crackdown by the junta.

By the end of September the monks' leader went in hiding, and in an attempt to force U Gambira out into the open the generals resorted to hostage taking by arresting several members of his family. This tactic worked and during November the peaceful protest leader was captured.

Since U Gambira's arrest his exact whereabouts remain unconfirmed officially. However reliable reports indicate that he is being kept in Cell Block 1 at Insein Prison in Rangoon. Cell Block 1 is notorious as the junta's main interrogation centre for political prisoners.

Just prior to his arrest U Gambira asked for following statement to be released:

“To Buddhists all over the world and activists and supporters of Burmese movement, please help to liberate the Burmese people from this disastrous and wicked system. To the many people of the world who are sympathetic to the suffering of the Burmese people, please help us to be free from this evil system. Good people in Burma are being killed or imprisoned, tortured, and then sent to forced labour camps. I sincerely ask the international community to do something to stop these atrocities. My chances of survival are very slim now. But I have not given up hope, and will try my best.”

ENDS

U Gambira is the pseudonym of a leader of the All-Burma Monks Alliance


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