Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Prominent Monk, Others Receive Lengthy Prison Sentences

Mizzima News
November 18, 2008

Ashin Gambira, one of the organizers of a monk-led uprising that captured international headlines last year, was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment on Tuesday by a special court convened behind closed doors at Rangoon’s Insein Prison.

A source close to the leading dissident monk said that the sentence did not include all of the charges against him, and would likely be much longer once the court reaches a final decision on the remaining charges.

“His case hasn’t been closed yet,” the source said. “There are still other charges being brought against him.”

The 29-year-old monk, who helped spearhead peaceful protests by thousands of Buddhist monks last September, was charged with violating a number of laws generally having to do with threatening the stability of the state.

These include Section 505 A and B of the State Offence Act, Section 13/1 of the Immigration Act, Section 17/1 of the Illegal Organization Act, Section 303 A of the Electronic Act and Section 6 of the Organization Act.

Intelligence agents arrested Ashin Gambira along with his father last November while he was hiding in Sintgaing Township, Mandalay Division. The authorities later forcibly disrobed him without consulting with the Buddhist monastic community, which alone has the authority to expel monks.

Ashin Gambira co-founded the All Burmese Monks’ Alliance, which led last year’s massive protests in Rangoon and other cities. The subsequent crackdown by the military claimed at least 31 lives, according to human rights groups, while thousands of monks and civilians were arrested and detained.

Besides Ashin Gambira, at least four other people received lengthy sentences today for their involvement in the protests, including fellow monk U Kaylar Tha from Mandalay Township, who was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment by the Kyimyindaing Township special court in Insein prison.

U Kaylar Tha was charged with violating Section 505 B of the State Offence Act, Section 13/1 of the Immigration Act, Section 17/2 of the Illegal Organization Act and Section 6 of the Organization Act.

Three ethnic activists were also sentenced today in connection with the monk-led protests. Ethnic Arakanese protester Tin Htoo Aung and Chin activist Kam Lat Hkoat were sentenced to 33 years imprisonment each, while another Chin activist, Kat Hkant Kwal, was given an eight-year sentence.

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