Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gambira transferred to Hkamti prison: Prison official

by Ko Wild

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Detained veteran Monk Gambira, who was allegedly staging a hunger strike in Mandalay prison, has been transferred to the remote Hkamti prison, his family members said citing prison officials.

A prison official told his mother Daw Ray, who tried to visit Gambira on Wednesday at Obo prison in Mandalay, that he had been transferred to Hkamti prison in Sagaing Division, about 300 miles north of Mandalay, on January 17.

According to the prison officials, he was transferred to another prison only after a medical check-up was conducted.

However, the prison officials refused to answer questions about the hunger strike believed to have been staged by Gambira, who is 29-years-old.

The child soldier-turned-political enthusiast monk was charged with 16 cases in the end of last year, including insulting religion and committing crime against public tranquility. He was sentenced to a total of 68 years in prison.

News about Gambira's hunger strike appeared, while he was on his way to Hkamti prison.

Gambira joined the monk-led September 2007 protests, while he was pursuing his 'Dhamasariya' religious studies. In the protest, thousands of people and monks took to the streets and demanded political solution through negotiation and dialogue by reciting Metta Sutra. He led this protest.

In the protest, popularly known as the Saffron Revolution later, at least 30 people were shot dead by the armed forces. After the protest was brutally suppressed, he had to flee from the scene and was on the run. But, he was finally arrested by the authority in Singai Township, Mandalay Division on November 4, 2007.

The military regime also sentenced his elder brother Aung Kyaw Kyaw to 14 years of imprisonment and his younger brother Aung Ko Ko Lwin and brother-in-law Moe Htet are still facing trial in Insein prison, charged with illegal border crossing cases.

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