The 68-year prison sentence handed down to Ashin Gambira for his role in last year’s monk-led protests shows that Burma’s brutal junta now exercises total control over the country’s Sangha, or community of Buddhist monks, who many regarded as the last bastion of resistance against military rule.
Ashin Gambira, 29, was one of the organizers of the uprising, which captured international attention last September with dramatic images of thousands of peacefully marching monks confronting heavily armed soldiers. On November 18, he received an initial 12-year sentence, which was extended by another 56 years last week.
According to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 143 young monks were arrested and detained for their involvement in the demonstrations.
Fifty-six of these monks have already received lengthy prison sentences, while another 87 remain in detention awaiting a final judgment by courts that invariably do the regime’s bidding.