02/10/2012, 00.00
MYANMAR
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Yangon, freed only a month ago, leader of the Saffron Revolution arrested

Burmese Ashin Gambira in prison serving a sentence of 68 years. Since release, he violated the terms of probation, breaking the seals of three monasteries closed by the authorities.
Yangon (AsiaNews) - This morning in Yangon, the Burmese authorities have "brought in" the dissident monk Ashin Gambira for "questioning". The arrest today comes less than a month after the religious leader’s release (see AsiaNews 13/01/2012High profile Burmese political prisoners freed), after three years in prison for leading the Saffron Revolution of Burmese monks in September 2007, violently repressed by the military junta. A presidential pardon had led to the release of hundreds of high profile political prisoners, as a sign of attempted reforms initiated by the government to return fully within the international community and obtain the chairmanship of Asean countries - Association covering 10 countries in South-East Asia - in 2014.

The Burmese court had sentenced Gambira to 68 years in prison. Since his release, he has repeatedly violated the terms of probation in raiding monasteries closed by the authorities or giving interviews critical of the political leadership (see AsiaNews 17/01/2012 Ashin Gambira: fake reform, the Burmese government violates human rights and religious freedom). A Burmese official, on condition of anonymity, confirmed to AFP that "[Gambira] was taken away this morning from his monastery for questioning after he broke the seals at three monasteries after his release."

The detention of religious leaders comes at a crucial moment in the political life of Myanmar today, in fact, the election campaign has officially begun ahead of the April 1vote, in which 40 MPs will be chosen to fill the vacant seats. The victory of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi seems likely, in recent weeks she has been engaged in a campaign throughout the country. The possibility for the democratic opposition leader to run for a seat in Parliament is just the latest in a series of reforms implemented by the new Burmese government, ruled for over 50 years by a strict military dictatorship. The Executive - while closely linked to and made up of many former generals and senior military officers - came to power last year, following the elections of November 2010 characterized by the absence of the Nobel Laureate, who was still under house arrest, the terms of which expired in the weeks following the vote.

Since then the regime has launched a series of reforms, including the reinstatement of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in the national political landscape, the achievement of a ceasefire with the rebel ethnic groups, and the release of several hundred political prisoners. In recent days the U.S. government has removed part of the economic and trade sanctions that have affected Myanmar two decades, while the EU has yet to rule on the matter. The vote in April represents an important test for the Burmese government and a possible development of international relations.
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