U Gambira to serve total of 68 years in prison

by Than Htike Oo, Mizzima news, November 21, 2008

Yangon, Myanmar -- The Burmese military junta's vendetta against monks came to the fore with U Gambira, a monk leader being sentenced to another 56 years in prison, totaling 68 years, by a Special Court sitting in session inside Insein
prison today.

A person close to the family of the monk, who rattled the Burmese military junta during the saffron revolution, said that he was sentenced today by Kamayut Township court on nine counts and by another four counts by Ahlone Township court.

Earlier, Kemmendine trial court which held proceedings inside Insein prison sentenced U Gambira on November 19 to 12 ½ years in prison on three counts including under section 295(a) and 505(b) of Penal Code (insulting religion and inducing crime against public tranquility).

U Gambira was 29, when he headed the monk-led protest, popularly known as saffron revolution in 2007 September, while he was pursuing Buddhist studies ­ the 'Dhamasaryiya Course'. The monk who stirred the conscience of the anti-regime masses by his political activity became the leading Sayadaw of 'All Burma Monks Alliance' (ABMA) which spearheaded the movement.

After the saffron revolution was brutally crushed by the junta, he went into hiding. But he was arrested in Singai Township, Mandalay Division on November 4, 2007.

Similarly another leading monk U Kaylartha from ABMA (Mandalay Division) who has already been sentenced to 35 years in prison with charges under the Unlawful Association Act, was given an additional four years in jail again today by a court inside Mandalay prison on two counts. His total prison term adds up to 39 years.

The monk-led protests spread like wildfire in the entire nation after the local security forces tied the protesting monks to lampposts and beat them up in public when they staged demonstrations in Pakokku, Magwe Division on September 5, 2007 against rising fuel and essential commodity prices.

The 'National League for Democracy' (NLD) issued a statement yesterday which urged the junta to review and reconsider the harsh prison sentences being handed out to political activists and political dissidents in recent times in accordance with the existing laws, regulations and by-laws.