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Junta arrests prominent Abbot U Gambira

by Mungpi, Mizzima News (www.mizzima.com), November 13, 2007

Rangoon, Burma -- Sayadaw (abbot) U Gambira, a prominent Buddhist clergy, who took a leading role in the August and September peoples' protest in Burma was arrested by the authorities in Rangoon, after a month in hiding, a source told Mizzima.

The police have been in hot pursuit of U Gambira, who took to the streets and led several thousand fellow monks on the streets of Rangoon in September.

He has been accused of masterminding the anti-regime demonstrations, which began over the peoples' agitation against the fuel price hike in mid-August.

Despite being on the run, the Buddhist clergy spoke to the world of the recent protests and the brutal crackdown by the ruling junta by writing an article, which appeared as an editorial on the Washington Post.

U Gambira was arrested the same day his article appeared on the Washington Post on November 4, the source said.

The source, who talked to the clergy over telephone, said, "He [U Gambira] responded saying that he had been arrested and is now under detention. Then, the line was disconnected."

While how his arrest came about is difficult to confirm, some activists in exile believe it is related to his article, saying it might have given the junta clues to where he was hiding.

Meanwhile, rumours are rife in Rangoon that prominent labour activist, Su Su Nwe, and two men were arrested on Tuesday morning in Rangoon. However, other sources said Su Su New was not among the arrested.

While the information cannot be independently confirmed, there is increasing concern for the safety of activists, who are still hiding from the junta's relentless search and arrest.

The arrest of U Gambira and the rumours about labour rights activist Su Su New, sends a conflicting message to the international community, which views the junta's acceptance of the visit and probe by UN rights expert Pinheiro as positive.

Pinheiro, who is now in Burma, making trips to detention camps and visiting places, is yet to comment over the arrest and his findings.

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