01/17/2012, 00.00
MYANMAR

Ashin Gambira: fake reform, the Burmese government violates human rights and religious freedom

Leader of the Saffron Revolution of September 2007, violently repressed by the military. One of 300 political prisoners, released last week by order of President Thein Sein, he talks about efforts "feeble" and changes in the democratic path "outward appearance".
Yangon (AsiaNews) - The release of political prisoners - more than 300, in the context of the last amnesty ordered last week by President Thein Sein - and the ceasefire with the Karen ethnic militias "are not sufficient evidence" to prove that the government Myanmar has embarked on a democratic path, says recently released monk Ashin Gambira, (see AsiaNews 13/01/2012 High profile Burmese political prisoners freed). He was imprisoned for leading the revolt of the monks - the Saffron Revolution, bloodily suppressed by the military junta - in September 2007. He confirms that the boycott implemented by the government officials sin the aftermath of the demonstrations is still in force as is their tight-hold on freedom of religion and practise.

Sentenced in 2008 to 32 years in prison, during the period of detention he was subjected to torture and violence. This is why he does not believe the promises of the executive and the image of openness to the world that it has been promoting for some time to obtain the favour of the international community, the lifting of Western sanctions and the ASEAN Presidency (Association covering 10 countries in South East Asia) for 2014.

In an interview with dissident website Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), Ashin Gambira stresses that the new government - formed following the parliamentary elections in November 2010 and in office for less than a year - has "changed in appearance only" , passing from the image of a military junta to an "civil" executive. However, efforts to create a full democracy "are still insufficient" and "violations of human rights” continuing. Denouncing the lack of full religious freedom and cases of persecution of the monks, he recalls that the current president Thein Sein held the position of Prime Minister in the previous military junta and is "one of the members still boycotted” by the Burmese religious.

Despite the last amnesty provision by the Head of State, hundreds of political prisoners are still held in the prisons of Myanmar - the number is uncertain. Other dissidents in Burma, condemned for crimes of opinion, confirm that they fully trust the promises of political leadership. Among these Maung Kyaw Nu, commenting on the interview of Ashin Gambira to DVB: "The religious boycott against the government must continue," warned the man, because they "demolish religions." "They have no respect - he added - of real monks and Buddhism in general."
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