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Gambira, Five Others Sent to Remote Prisons

By SAW YAN NAING, The Irrawaddy, December 1, 2008

Rangoon, Burma -- At least six political activists including the prominent Buddhist monk Ashin Gambira, one of the leaders in the September demonstrations last year, were sent to prisons in remote areas around Burma on Monday, said reliable sources in Rangoon.

Ashin Gambira, who received the longest prison term of 68 years, was transferred from Insein Prison to Hkamti Prison in Sagaing Division while his older brother, Aung Kyaw Kyaw, was sent from Insein Prison to Taunggyi Prison in Shan State in eastern Burma, according to a source who requested anonymity.

Also on Monday, Wanna Aung was sent to Pegu Prison in central Burma and Thiha Thet Zin was transferred to Myitkyina Prison in Kachin State in northern Burma, while Thein Zaw was moved to Kengtung Prison in Shan State, said the source. Another detainee, Htun Oo, was sent to Taungoo Prison in Pegu Division.

Sources also said that Tin Htoo Aung, a young ethnic activist, was transferred to Hkamti Prison in Sagaing Divison on Saturday.

Also this weekend, about five members of the opposition party, the National League for Democracy, were sent to remote prisons, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma).

The five were arrested by Burmese authorities after they staged a protest in Rangoon calling for the release of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi during her birthday celebration.

An estimated 215 political detainees including Buddhist monks, NLD members, lawyers and journalists were given prison terms in November, and at least 136 have been transferred to remote prisons around Burma, according to the AAPP.

Bo Kyi, the joint-secretary of the AAPP, condemned the transfers “This is just another form of psychological torture by the regime. It will take a lot of time, money and effort for their families to visit and provide essential food and medicine.”

There are an estimated 65 NLD members among the jailed dissidents, said the AAPP.
The Burmese government has been condemned by the international community for its harsh judicial crackdown on Burmese pro-democracy activists.

However, the junta has ignored the calls and stuck to its so-called “seven-step road map” to democracy.

On Saturday, the junta leader, Snr-Gen Than Shwe, said at the 15th annual meeting of the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Association that the seven-step roadmap is needed and is the only way to a smooth transition to democracy.

The Burmese military government says that is has implemented the first four steps of the roadmap and will hold a general election—step-five—sometime in 2010.

"Despite various disturbances and pressure of those who do not want to realize the objective conditions of the nation, the goal of the state is drawing near," he said.

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