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Burmese monks' leader speaks from hiding

Translation by Ko Ko Aung for RFA’s Burmese service; Service director: Nancy Shwe, Radio Free Asia/Burmese Service, 0ctober 18, 2007

Rangoon, Burma -- U Gambira, a leader of the All-Burma Monks’ Alliance that spearheaded nationwide protests in Burma in September, became a fugitive following the deadly Sept. 26-27 crackdown on protesters nationwide.

Burmese security authorities have arrested family members of U Gambira, a monk wanted for his involvement in anti-government demonstrations, and say they will not release them until U Gambira has been detained. 

U Gambira has been on the government’s most wanted list and but has not yet been located by government security forces.

Ko Aung Kyaw Kyaw, the younger brother of U Gambira and secretary of the National League for Democracy in Pauk township, Magwe division, was arrested in Rangoon on Wednesday by authorities. Another brother of the monk, Ko Win Zaw, a HIV/AIDS patient, was also arrested in their hometown of Pauk recently.

Sources close to the family told DVB that U Gambira’s mother and sister were also arrested by the township police in Meikhtila in Mandalay division, leaving his father and another sister on the run.

The sources also told DVBthat the military intelligence officer who arrested U Gambira’s family members apparently told them they would not be released until the monk is detained.

The following is a statement recorded by RFA:

“My situation is not good. I have slept without shelter for two nights. I am not very well now. My security is pretty bad,” he said, speaking from an undisclosed location. “Now these fellows are trying to butcher me. Now if you are done talking, as soon as you hang up, I have to move somewhere…”

“The important thing for overseas Sanghas [monks] is to carry out the Burmese cause continuously, with unity. At the moment, as you know, we cannot do anything inside Burma. We have been assaulted very badly. A few got away, a few left. I am still trying to get away but I haven't succeeded.”

He read the following message to U.N. Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari, U.S. President George Bush, and to the world:

“Mr. (Ibrahim) Gambari… I wish to say, please do something effective and practical  for Burma. Measures such as economic sanctions and arms embargo will take time (years) to achieve a political solution. What is most important is for today, for tomorrow. Please tell Mr. Gambari that I am very grateful for his active participation in Burmese affairs. I have a tremendous respect for him. But please tell him to implement the most effective practical measures in Burma. Please try. Please send U.N. representatives to Burma to carry out various ways and means to get political results now. For today.”

“To Buddhists all over the world and activists and supporters of Burmese movement, please help to liberate the Burmese people from this disastrous and wicked system. To the six billion people of the world, to those who are sympathetic to the suffering of the Burmese people, please help us to be free from this evil system. Many people are being killed, imprisoned, tortured, and sent to forced labor camps. I hereby sincerely ask theinternational community to do something to stop these atrocities. My chances of survival are very slim now. But I have not given up, and I will try my best.”

Killings, torture, labor camp

“...I would like to make an appeal to President Bush: Please take pride as a President who has worked hard for Burma to achieve something before his term expires.”

“I might not have very long to live. I, Gambira, speaking by phone with you right now, have a very slim chance of survival. Please try your best to relieve our suffering. It will be worse in future when they [the junta] have laid down their roadmap so they can remain in power forever—it will be a blueprint to oppress us systematically. Once they establish their constitution, the Burmese people will suffer for generation after generation.”

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