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U Gambira transferred to Khandee prison

Jan 22, 2009 (DVB), Imprisoned monk leader U Gambira has been transferred to the remote Khandee prison in Sagaing division, according to his sister Khin Thu Htay.

The All Burmese Monks' Alliance leader was reported to have been staging a hunger strike in Mandalay prison last week.

Mandalay prison officials told the monk's mother Daw Yay, who was in Mandalay for a prison visit, that he had been transferred to Khandee on 17 January.

Khin Thu Htay said their mother was closely watched by government officials in civilian clothing throughout her time in Mandalay.

"[Prison authorities] told our mother that U Gambira was transferred to Khandee prison on Saturday but they refused to say why," said Khin Thu Htay.

"They also said they only did it after a medical checkup to make sure he was fit for a transfer."

Khandee prison is located 1200 miles north of Rangoon.

Bo Kyi, joint secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, condemned the practice of transferring prisoners without informing their families.

"If the government wants to transfer a prisoner from one place of detention to another, they need to inform the prisoner concern and either his or her family," Bo Kyi said.

"We have been witnessing worsening conditions in prisons in Burma and we have seen that people can die at any time in these situations," he said.

"It would be best if the SPDC government was honest about its actions."

Reporting by Htet Yazar