A Monk on a Political Mission of Mercy
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A Monk on a Political Mission of Mercy


By BJ STUART / THE IRRAWADDY Wednesday, January 25, 2012


U Gambira after he was released on Jan.13. (PHOTO: BJ STUART)
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All the while I was handcuffed to the chair I was sitting on,” he said.

His interrogators came in groups of three: The first three were followed by three more. Then three more came. And then another three… It seemed liked it would never end, he said. Deprived of sleep for six days, he was totally exhausted by the end of his ordeal. But unlike many of his laymen counterparts, he said, he was not physically tortured.

After a long wait in solitary confinement and several court hearings, the activist monk received his sentence.

“A kangaroo court gave me 68 years in prison. I never pleaded guilty,” he said.

Even though many regarded the Saffron Revolution as a failure because it fizzled out following the government's heavy-handed response, which included firing live rounds at protesters, nighttime raids on monasteries and mass arrests, the monk had a different opinion.

“It was a success!” he boomed. “It put more international pressure on the military regime, which had to give up power because it could no longer buy time.”

But he admitted that he was disappointed that the protests were unable to force the government to apologize for mistreating the monks in Pakokku or keep soaring food prices in check. Both were among the major demands made during the Saffron Revolution. And, he added, it is a disgrace that there are still hundreds of political prisoners behind bars.

Asked if he had any message for young Burmese, he said: “Keep your political awareness alive, and don't let fear reign you.”

“You always have to know when your rights have been abused. Try to know your rights. If you know them, practice them. That's democracy,” he said.

While many people inside and outside the country have hailed Burmese President Thein Sein for his reforms, the monk was skeptical about recent changes in the country, noting that the new, nominally civilian government still has some characteristics of the former military dictatorship.

He cited the continued detention of political dissidents and the ongoing war in Kachin State as reasons for his doubts about the new administration.

“Why haven't they freed the remaining political prisoners? It sounds dishonest. And why is the war with the Kachin Independence Army still raging? Why have they left it unsolved?" he said. “In my eyes, they are just generals in suits.”

Asked what he wants people to understand about him, the monk and one-time child soldier replied: “They can think as they like.”

“I'm just doing what I need to do,” he explained. “I have been fighting non-violently for our people's rights and democracy to take root in Burma, and I will continue to try to make them flourish. If needed, I will take to the streets again.”



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COMMENTS (5)
 
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Dominic Mang Wrote:
05/02/2012
Thank you so much for the love you have shown!

Terry Evans Wrote:
05/02/2012
It is great to see U Gambira free. He is an inspiration, as he continues to work and live to serve others.


Tom Wrote:
31/01/2012
The courage of the Burmese people is remarkable and a powerful lesson to all "leaders" who fail to listen to the voice of the people. Whether it's fear of economic ruin, or the realisation of the inevitable karmic justice, I do not know, but I hope the eyes of the world will this time not flinch, and will ensure there is no relapse into violence by the army and police. Long live Daw Suu Kyi and U Gambira.

URaw Gam Wrote:
27/01/2012
Patient unreasonably is a sin. Fighting the Satanic rulers is a grace and heavenly deeds.
Praise Ashin Gambira.

kerry Wrote:
26/01/2012
U Gambira is a courageous man, whose name resonates around the world. He is listened to.

Monks can be political teachers when the people are suffering.

Generals in new clothes are not a 'government' in anyone' terms. The game is up.

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