Burma: activist monk detained amid industrial strikes, renewed insurgency

Burmese authorities reportedly detained a Buddhist monk who was just recently freed from prison. Shin Gambira was taken early Feb. 10 from a monastery in Rangoon, apparently for “questioning.” Shin Gambira, a leader of the 2007 “Saffron Revolution” protests, was sentenced to 68 years in prison after the movement was crushed, including 12 years of hard labor. He was among 651 political prisoners released from detention last month by Burma’s new, military-backed civilian government. Western powers have imposed the freeing of political dissidents as a condition for the lifting of economic sanctions. (VOA, AFP, Feb. 10)

Wildcat strikes are meanwhile spreading in Rangoon region. A four-day strike at the Tai Yi footwear factory on Feb. 9 spread to the New Way footwear factory, also in the Hlaing Tharyar industrial zone. In both strikes, workers are demanding higher wages, overtime pay, sick leave, and the right to freely organize. Some 4,000 workers are now on strike. (Mizzima, Feb. 10)

In northern Shan state, new clashes have erupted between the army and tribal militants only weeks after a ceasefire was signed between the government and rebel Shan State Army (SSA). The fighting broke out earlier this week after SSA troops encountered three Burmese battalions in rebel-controlled territory northwest of the town of Tachilek, on Shan state’s border with Thailand. Reports did not indicate the number of casualties. Last month, clashes also broke in Karen state, only weeks after the government held ceasefire talks with the Karen National Union. (Democratic Voice of Burma, Feb. 10)

See our last post on the struggle in Burma.