In the last week it was reported that Ashin Gambira had been transferred from Kalay Prison to the infamous Insein Prison near Rangoon. This was regarded as somewhat hopeful news, as at least now it would be easier for his family to visit him regularly and better medical facilities would be available. However, we have been told by his family that this is not the case. He has in fact been transferred to Myaungmya Prison in Irrawaddy Division instead.
Myaungmya Prison is around 500 miles away from his hometown, meaning it will still be very difficult for his family to visit him regularly. It took the family three days to finally get this information from the warden at Myaungmya Prison after making a phone call. It is part of the government’s policy not to inform the relatives of political prisoners about such transfers.
Apart from Ashin Gambira, other well known prominent political prisoners including Min Ko Naing, Hkun Htun Oo (Shan Nationalities League for Democracy), female activist Nilar Thein (88 group), Pandeik Tun (88 group), Nyi Pu, who won a seat in the 1990 elections, and labor activist Thuyein Aung have also been or soon will be transferred to different prisons.
It seems unlikely that those recently transferred will be included in any forthcoming release, as the moves are seen to be a reaction to humanitarian calls to relocate remaining incarcerated dissidents to be closer to their relatives on the outside.
Some of you may have read in recent news reports that Ashin Gambira is suffering from the combined effects of long-term solitary confinement (he has not been allowed outside of his solitary cell since May 2009), frequent beatings, complete lack of proper medical care, and very poor nutrition. His condition is worsening and seems to be quite precarious. In late 2009 he was reported to have contracted malaria, but has never received proper treatment for this condition. He also suffers from bronchitis.
Fellow inmates who were recently released from Kalay Prison have related to international human rights organizations that the monk “suffers from fits, in which he frequently cries out in pain and clutches at his head. The prison authorities then have to hold him down to administer a drug via injection, perhaps a sedative, after which he goes quiet and falls unconscious.” Even after he has regained his consciousness, he is unable to communicate properly. A nurse has noted that this could be the result of brain damage sustained after severe beatings.
We renew our call for the immediate and unconditional release of U Gambira, Buddhist monk and leader of the ABMA (All Burma Monks Alliance), and his access to proper medical treatment in hospital.
What you can do:
1) Send a letter to the President of the Union of Myanmar, U Thein Sein >>
2) Write a message of support to Ashin Gambira and his family as a comment. We will deliver the messages to U Gambira’s sister, she will give the messages to her family. You can send your message to firstname.lastname@example.org
3) Visit U Gambira’s facebook page >>
U Gambira’s sister opened this page for her brother
4) Download and print a small poster of Ashin Gambira with information. Take a photo of yourself with a candle to show your support, and send the photo to email@example.com or our Facebook page. You can use this poster when you take a photo with your candle, or post it to raise awareness about Ashin Gambira and this campaign.