Trauma specialist on re-arrest of Saffron Revolution leader: ‘This will have a catastrophic effect’

The trauma specialist who treated Saffron Revolution leader U Gambira after he developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has joined the chorus of voices calling for his urgent release from jail.

The former monk was re-arrested on Tuesday night on immigration charges after he returned to Myanmar from Thailand to get a new passport.

He spent six years in prison after the 2007 uprising and, following his release in 2012, was treated for PTSD following what specialist Rory Magee called “extreme physical and psychological torture” while behind bars.

Magee released the below public statement, via the journalist Veronica Pedrosa’s Facebook page, on Wednesday.

“My heart sank when I heard that Gambira had been arrested last night and sent to prison by the authorities in Myanmar once again.
Two years ago at The Cabin, Chiang Mai, Thailand, we successfully treated Gambira for severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which was caused by extreme physical and psychological torture he experienced whilst in five Myanmar prisons for a period of six years, including being handcuffed to the floor in solitary confinement for many months. As well as the brutal and random physical beatings he regular experienced, he was subjected to “chemical torture” following injection of unknown substances that induced both unbearable physical pain as well as inducing terrifying psychotic states. 
Gambira attended the Cabin in Chiang Mai, Thailand, for a period of two months, free of charge,and received cutting edge psychological treatment that reduced many of his PTSD symptoms. His recovery was slow as he was badly affected but he was returning to full power and was able to concentrate once again and work towards many of his passionate causes on behalf the Myanmar people including campaigning for the elimination of religious discrimination and preventing the demonizing of Muslims by the Myanmar Government who were infiltrating and turning the Buddhist movement against other minorities. It was always his intention to get strong enough to return home and be of service to Myanmar people – his people and family.

I felt great sadness and anger when I heard that he had been imprisoned last night.This action will have produced a catastrophic effect on his fragile recovery from PTSD. The experience of imprisonment will have retraumatized Gambira and he will have already experienced unbearable amounts of psychological suffering since being arrested. Re- experiencing imprisonment will have triggered many of the traumatic memories that he still holds within his mind of all the diabolical torture he experienced 7 years ago from the same authorities. This will result in overwhelming physiological and physical distress such as extreme terror, insomnia, panic, despair, hopelessness, flashbacks and thoughts of suicide. When people with PTSD are exposed to triggers of their original trauma, it feels as if all the trauma happening again in the here and now and this further traumatizes the person and installs further traumatic memories. The effects on both the body and the central nervous system are overwhelming.

I am extremely concerned for Gambira’s well being – I fear that all of the hard work that Gambira did here at the Cabin to overcome his problems has now been sabotaged. How much can one man bear? 
I make a heartfelt request that anyone who reads this who has any influence on his captors, please do all you can to bring this former Buddhist monk to a safe place.”


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