BURMA: Repeated re-arrest of released monk 


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-044-2012
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Rule of law,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission regrets to inform you that following the recent release of prisoners of conscience and others from Burma’s jails, U Gambira, a monk who led the 2007 protests against military dictatorship has so far twice been rearrested and taken for questioning before being released. Furthermore, the state media has threatened that he will be prosecuted for re-occupying his old monastery, which the authorities sealed following the protests.


As the AHRC has noted already, in January hundreds of political prisoners and other detainees were released from Burma’s jails (UAU-004-2012). Among them was U Gambira, on whom we issued an appeal previously (AHRC-UAC-248-2008).

However, after Gambira was released from custody he went to re-occupy his old monastery and resume his life as a monk. The authorities had sealed off his monastery and have indicated that he could not take back his robes without permission, but so far as Gambira is concerned he committed no wrongdoing and he had no need either to seek approval to resume his life as a monk, or stay at his old monastery.

In February, the Special Branch police and other officials came and took Gambira one time and then released him after questioning. Then, on March 6 they again came and took him for questioning, this time from the house of his sister, along with another monk. According to reports, the reason for his arrest on this occasion was his recent visit to Kachin State, where he went to see what could be done to assist tens of thousands of people who have been forced to flee their villages due to ongoing civil war.

Although the second time the police released him around 9pm on March 8, the AHRC is concerned that the harassment of Gambira is set to continue. In particular, we note an article in the state media of February 19 warning that Gambira would be arrested and prosecuted imminently.

Therefore, we are urging that the authorities order a cessation of the harassment of Gambira and the removal of the seal on his original monastery. Further analysis of the case is in the sample letter below.


Gambira suffered brutal torture in detention and in October 2011 the AHRC also issued an open letter expressing concern for his health while in prison (AHRC-OLT-013-2011).

For more commentary on these and other human rights issues in Burma, visit the Burma page on the new AHRC website: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/burma.

The AHRC Burmese-language blog is also updated constantly for Burmese-language readers, and covers the contents of urgent appeal cases, related news, and special analysis pieces.


Please write to the persons listed below to call for the release of U Win Naing Kyaw and the two other accused men. Please note that for the purposes of the letter Burma is referred to by its official name of Myanmar, and Rangoon as Yangon.

Please be informed that the AHRC is writing separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Myanmar, and on torture; to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and to the regional human rights office for Southeast Asia calling for interventions into this case.



To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear ___________,

MYANMAR: Repeated arrests and harassment of monk

Name: U Gambhira (a) Candobhasa (a) Nyi Nyi Lwin, 33, monk formerly residing at Maggin Monastery, Thingangyun Township, Yangon

I regret to learn that a monk who was released in the 13 January 2012 amnesty of prisoners in Myanmar as since twice been detained and interrogated by Special Branch police officers and has been threatened with prosecution through the state media for returning to his life as a monk and for attempting to reside at his former monastery.

According to the information that I have received, after U Gambira was released from prison for his leadership role in the 2007 protests, he donned his robes and returned to the Maggin Monastery in Yangon, where he had resided previously, which the authorities have sealed off.

During the night of February 10, the Special Branch police arrested Gambira, interrogated him and released him around a day later. Thereafter, the state media on February 19 issued public announcements on February 19 that Gambira would again be brought to trial for "squatting" at the Maggin Monastery and for other alleged affronts the Buddhist religious order.

Around 10pm on March 6, Special Branch officers and other police and officials arrested Gambira for a second time, along with another monk, at his sister's house in North Dagon, and took him to the Kyauktada Police Station. After further interrogation, they released him again around 9pm on March 8. I understand that the reason for his arrest on this occasion was his recent visit to Kachin State, where he went to see what could be done to assist people forced from their homes by the ongoing armed conflict.

Although the police have again released Gambira, I am concerned that these repeated arrests and other public actions against him are a clear form of intimidation and unlawful harassment of a monk who is doing no more than demanding that he be entitled to continue his practice as before, in the rightful belief that he never committed any offence for which he should be imprisoned.

Furthermore, I note that at no time on either occasion has Gambira been shown a warrant or brought before a judge.

I also note that in the course of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's campaigning for her political party, the National League for Democracy, in recent weeks, many monks have come out to greet her and have listened to the party political speeches given, but so far as I am aware, these monks have not faced similar persecution. Therefore, I wonder why Gambira appears to be singled out by the authorities for doing no more than attempting to resume his life as a monk.

Finally, I note that Gambira is a victim not only of unlawful imprisonment but also of torture, and as he has already suffered trauma at the hands of the authorities in Myanmar a special obligation is owed to him in respect of both his physical and psychological integrity. Yet, rather than demonstrating any commitment to his wellbeing and recognition of the suffering that he has already been forced to endure at the hands of state officials, the authorities in Myanmar seem intent upon putting him through further suffering for reasons that are at best trivial and so far as I can see, altogether groundless.

Accordingly, I urge the government of Myanmar to cease the harassment to U Gambira, to permit him to reside as a monk at the Maggin Monastery as previously, and to provide him with whatever medical and psychological assistance that he requires as a consequence of the earlier illegal forms of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment perpetrated upon him by state officials. I also take this opportunity to call on the government to afford the same guarantees of no re-arrest and medical and psychological care to other persons released from periods of imprisonment, many of whom also suffered extensive torture, in recent times.

Yours sincerely,


1. U Hla Min
Minister for Home Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
Fax: +95 67 412 439

2. U Thein Sein
President of Myanmar
President Office
Office No.18

3. Dr. Tun Shin
Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
Office No. 25
Tel: +95 67 404 088/ 090/ 092/ 094/ 097
Fax: +95 67 404 146/ 106

4. U Kyaw Kyaw Htun
Director General
Myanmar Police Force
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
Fax: +951 549 663 / 549 208

5. U Win Mra
Myanmar National Human Rights Commission
27 Pyay Road
Hlaing Township
Tel: +95-1-659668
Fax: +95-1-659668

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (ua@ahrc.asia)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-044-2012
Countries : Burma (Myanmar),
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention, Rule of law,