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Myanmar: Release human rights defender U Gambira immediately and unconditionally

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(Bangkok, 9 February) – Myanmar should immediately and unconditionally release human rights defender and former political prisoner U Gambira, who has been detained on flimsy charges of “illegally entering” the country, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) said today.

U Gambira was arrested in Mandalay on 19 January 2016 on charges under Section 13(1) of Myanmar’s 1947 Immigration Act. The circumstances were bizarre, as he had entered Myanmar four days earlier from Thailand and had passed through two immigration checks. U Gambira, who now lives in Thailand, had travelled to Myanmar to renew his passport. On 3 February 2016, Gambira was produced in a Mandalay court. His counsel requested for immediate bail, due to his serious medical condition. However, the judge said he could only decide on bail by the next hearing, which is scheduled to take place on 10 February 2016.

U Gambira, former leader of the All-Burma Monks’ Alliance led the 2007 Saffron revolution. He was first arrested in November 2007 and sentenced to 68 years in prison. He was released through a presidential amnesty as part of larger political reforms in 2012. However, he was re-arrested at least three times in 2012 alone. It is reported that U Gambira suffered physically and psychologically from alleged torture during his detention.

FORUM-ASIA calls upon on the responsible authorities in Myanmar to act swiftly to stop the persecution of human rights defenders, who have played a significant role in the country’s historical transition.

“U Gambira has most likely been arrested as a result of his previous human rights work. It goes to show how human rights defenders continue to be at risk in Myanmar,” said Evelyn Balais-Serrano, Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA. “U Gambira should be immediately released as he has committed no crime and especially given his serious medical condition.”

FORUM-ASIA is a regional human rights group with 58 member organisations in 19 countries across Asia. FORUM-ASIA addresses key areas of human rights violations in the region, including freedoms of expression, assembly and association, human rights defenders, and democratisation.

For further inquiries, please contact:

• Human Rights Defenders Programme: [email protected]
• East Asia Programme: [email protected]