Prominent Myanmar monk taken in for questioning

February 10, 2012 - 5:25 AM
Myanmar Monk Detained

In this Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 file photo, Shin Gambira, a prominent Buddhist monk who was one of hundreds of political prisoners freed in Myanmar, attends a ceremony of "Pray for Peace and Religious Unity" at a church in Yangon, Myanmar. Gambira was detained Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 after a pre-dawn visit by authorities, an official said. The detention of Gambira had echoes of the previous administration, which was known for whisking away its critics in the middle of the night. An official from the Home Ministry said that Gambira was "taken away" from the Yangon monastery where he was staying and brought for "questioning in relation to an incident that happened after his release." (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win, File)

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — A prominent Buddhist monk who was one of hundreds of political prisoners freed in Myanmar last month was detained Friday after a pre-dawn visit by authorities, an official said.

Shin Gambira, 33, was one of the leaders of the so-called Saffron Revolution, a 2007 anti-government uprising led by Buddhist monks against the then-ruling junta. He was detained after a military crackdown on protesters and released Jan. 13 as part of a mass prisoner release that has been hailed as a sign of Myanmar's new government's willingness to make reforms.

Friday's detention of Gambira, however, had echoes of the previous administration, which was known for whisking away its critics in the middle of the night.

An official from the Home Ministry said that Gambira was "taken away" from the Yangon monastery where he was staying and brought for "questioning in relation to incidents that happened after his release."

The official, who spoke on condition on anonymity, said that Gambira and other monks had illegally entered monasteries that had been shut after the 2007 uprising.

Authorities went after Gambira after he ignored a summons to report for questioning, the official said.

It was not immediately clear how long Gambira would be detained.

Gambira had also publicly voiced skepticism about the new government's commitment to democratic reforms.

His detention comes amid widespread international attention on Myanmar, where the new nominally civilian government has drawn cautious praise.

The U.S. and European Union have called the progress positive steps forward but say they will be closely watching an upcoming April by-election before deciding whether to lift sanctions that were imposed during military rule.