Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Venerable Monk U Uttaha has received "Bindman’s Law and Campaigning Award"
for the behalf of U Gambira and Monks of Burma.

Bindman’s Law and Campaigning Award

This award is given to lawyers or campaigners who have fought repression, or have struggled to change political climates and perceptions. Special attention is given to people using or establishing legal precedents to fight injustice.

About U Gambira
(from www.burmadigest.info)

U Gambira, the 29-year old leader of the All-Burma Monks’ Alliance that spearheaded nationwide protests in Burma in September, became a fugitive following the deadly Sept. 26-27 crackdown on protesters in Burma. He made important announcements to the world outside Burma about the alliance’s aims and in a climate of fear and arrests of pro-democracy activists, became one of the new leaders of Burma’s freedom movement.

U Gambira led the life of a monk until summer 2007, dedicating his life to religious study and working compassionately for the benefit of all people. Following the SPDC/USDA/SAS attacks on monks in Pakkoku, U Gambira became involved with what we now call the ‘Saffron Revolution’. His actions and those of his fellow monks brought the world’s attention to the protests in Burma, and gave enormous impetus to the pro-democracy movement inside Burma and with the activist movements around the world. The SPDC saw him and the rest of the protest organisers (and participatants) as their enemy; He was targeted by the SPDC and went into hiding, his family taken hostage until he gave himself up.

U Gambira now languishes in a grim prison cell, and like other protesters beaten and tortured by sadistic SPDC minions. He is reported to be incarcerated at Insein prison and it seems likely that he will be charged with treason and given what amounts to a life sentence behind bars. It was these risks that U Gambira took on himself just a few months ago; he knew the risk, but acted on his conscience and his belief – a belief that non-violent protest and the power of prayer against guns and tanks will eventually win the freedom that the people of Burma so desperately need.

U Gambira acted not for personal gain, or to better himself, or out of any wish for political power; he acted out of compassion and humility and a great love for his fellow man, in a manner true to the fundamental calling of the Sangha. He very deservedly receives our nomination as ‘Person of the Year 2007 in Burma.’

The Alliance of All Burmese Buddhist Monks/ All Burma Sangha Coalition

Describing themselves as The Alliance of All Burmese Buddhist Monks, the author of a widely distributed leaflet gave the military government until September 17 to issue an apology for its brutal suppression of demonstrating monks in Pakkoku by police, soldiers and pro-government paramilitary thugs. When the junta failed to apologize, the alliance urged all Buddhist monks in the country to hold a “patam nikkujjana kamma”—a boycott of alms from members of the military regime and its supporters. The call prompted tens of thousands of monks and civilians around Burma to stage the largest protest marches against the military government in nearly 20 years, calling for better living conditions for the people and national reconciliation.

When the protests began, no one knew the identity of the leaders of the monks’ alliance. However, the Burmese people heard from some of the leaders of the underground network when they gave telephone interviews to overseas radio stations. U Gambira, U Obhasa, U Khemeinda and U Zakada are now household names. All went into hiding when the crackdown began.

Unfortunately, in early November U Gambira was arrested at his hiding place in Kyaukse in central Burma. His brother and father were taken hostage in October in an exchange for U Gambira turning himself in. However, his brother and father have yet to be freed. The 29-year-old leading monk has been charged with treason by the Burmese junta, according to his family. The punishment for treason is a life sentence or death.