Asia

Saffron Revolution monk U Gambira arrested in Myanmar

File photo of Shin Gambira, leader of the All-Burmese Monks Alliance, talking to supporters while attending a court hearing in Yangon Image copyright Reuters
Image caption U Gambira was one of the most prominent monks during the Saffron Revolution

A former monk who led the 2007 street protests in Myanmar has appeared in court in Mandalay charged with immigration offences.

U Gambira, who is no longer a monk, has been living in Thailand and returned to Myanmar, also known as Burma, to try and obtain a Burmese passport.

He was one of the most prominent monks during the Saffron Revolution.

As leader of the All Burma Monks Alliance he helped organise weeks of protest against the military regime.

U Gambira's Australian wife said the couple wanted a passport so they could travel to her home country.

"I'm worried about him because he can't get bail," Marie Siochana told the Irrawaddy magazine.

"He is mentally ill and needs to take medicine regularly. He needs to look after his health, and I wonder why they still want to arrest him."

The former monk is being charged with an immigration offence that relates to illegally crossing the border.

But his supporters say it is just the latest incident in a long history of harassment by the authorities in Myanmar.

U Gambira was sentenced to 68 years in prison in 2008 for his role in the demonstrations, but was released in an amnesty in 2012.

After being freed, U Gambira said he had been tortured and severely beaten in jail.

He moved to Thailand after being re-arrested several times in Myanmar.

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