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U Gambira

Burmese activist released but his ordeal is not over

U Gambira was one of the incredibly brave monks who helped lead the 2007 ‘Saffron Revolution.  As a result, he was sentenced to 68 years in prison. Whilst in detention he was tortured both physically and psychologically.  In the evenings the prison guards would come to his cell, put a black bag on his head, stuff a cloth in his mouth, handcuff his wrists and chain his feet to the floor, then hit him repeatedly over the head with wooden batons. He would then be interrogated all night under harsh spotlights.

As a result of the beatings he sustained a skull fracture and a traumatic brain injury which still cause him extremely severe headaches several times a week.

Thankfully he was released as part of an amnesty in January 2012 but he now begins the long process of rebuilding his life and recovering from his ordeal. We were very pleased to be able to provide a grant recently to help pay for the essential medical treatment he needs as he recovers.

Like many other recently freed political prisoners in Burma, U Gambira’s release was conditional and as he has continued his political activities he has actually been re-arrested three times since his release.  His case is emblematic of the pressures that activists still face despite the slow transition away from the military dictatorship.

Photo courtesy of James Mackay, Enigma Images.