Ashin Gambira apparently returned to Meggin Monastery this evening at around 8 pm after having been detained for several hours today.
Between 1 and 2 am this morning, three cars with around 15 plainclothes police and secret service officers entered the monastery where Ashin Gambira was staying and took him to an undisclosed location for questioning.
He was accused of unlawfully entering and opening three monasteries in the past weeks. All three monasteries had been closed by the military authorities in 2007. Actually, the military entered these monasteries unlawfully with force during the crackdown on the 2007 Saffron Revolution, destroying religious and personal items and brutalizing, arresting, and disrobing the resident monks.
Many of these monks, including U Gambira, had been in prison since the crackdown and had only been released recently in an amnesty. After their release, these monks had no other place to go because monasteries seldom allow monks who have been detained as political prisoners to reside because of strong pressure from the authorities. Therefore, these monks do not have any other option than going back to their old monastery, even if the monastery has had it locked ever since the crackdown.
The Thein Sein government has said repeatedly that it will not return to the old ways of the military dictatorship, yet it continues to treat activist monks like criminals. Entering a monastery in the middle of the night with ten or more police officers, taking a monk to an undisclosed location without any legal support is hardly the way to react to a simple opening and entering of a monastery that was unlawfully closed in the first place. And why did they only take U Gambira and not the other monks who also entered the locked monastery?
The Maha Nayaka Sangha Council said that U Gambira had failed to appear at a meeting after he was summoned. The letter for the first meeting was delivered while he was in Mandalay, asking him to appear in front of the council the very next day in Rangoon. When he returned to Rangoon, he did go for a meeting that did not take place because of a misunderstanding.
We must also not forget that Ashin Gambira has not been released unconditionally. Rather, his prison sentence has only been suspended. This means if he is rearrested again and charged with a criminal offense he can be detained for the remaining time of his original sentence of 63 years.
Oppression of Buddhist monks in Burma is still ongoing, despite all the encouraging signs of change in the country. Shwe Nya Wah Sayadaw was evicted from his monastery for giving a Dharma sermon at an NLD office. He had been banned from speaking for one year. This ban expired last week, but he still does not seem allowed to deliver Dharma sermons. Ashin Sopaka remains under village arrest, guarded around the clock by four policemen. How can opening a monastery, giving Dharma talks, and calling for peace be criminal acts in a democratic, Buddhist country?
- Shwe Nya Wah Sayadaw ordered to leave his monastery
- Ashin Gambira Rebuilding Meggin Monastery – “We want to see real change”
- Ashin Gambira: “Please try to find a good way to work for the release of all political prisoners”
- We call on all monks, people of Burma and people outside of Burma to join Ashin Sopaka
- Candle Vigil for Ashin Gambira in Mae Sot
- ABMA: We call for the immediate and unconditional release of U Gambira
- “Political prisoners must have rights” – Ashin Gambira on hunger strike in Kale jail
- What is the All Burma Monks Alliance, and Who are its Founders?
- U Gambira and King Zero: The Minds behind the Saffron Revolution
- U Gambira: “Please take action”