Shin Gambira Image Credit: AP

Yangon: An activist monk who led a 2007 uprising against Myanmar's former military government has returned to his monastery after being taken for questioning by the authorities just weeks after his release from prison, a family member said yesterday.

Shin Gambira, the leader of the Alliance of All Burma Buddhist Monks, was taken from a monastery in commercial capital Yangon on Thursday night by city authorities and officials from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, but returned home safely late on Friday.

"He told us that he met some government officials and senior monks. He said he was treated well," the family member said, without elaborating and requesting anonymity.

Shin Gambira's brief detention is still shrouded in mystery. The United States expressed concern on Friday and demanded his immediate release and for Myanmar to "protect the fundamental freedoms of all its citizens, including all of those recently released from detention".

The United States is monitoring the country closely before deciding whether to lift a range of economic sanctions in place for human rights abuses by the former military regime, which made way for a civilian government 11 months ago.

Shin Gambira, 33, was one of the leaders of the pro-democracy "Saffron Revolution" during which monks led protests against the junta that had ruled the former Burma for 49 years.

At least 31 people were killed during the uprising that was brutally crushed by security forces, with hundreds beaten and arrested.

The crackdown led to the imposition of additional sanctions on the regime — embargoes that are currently being reviewed by the United States and the European Union in response to a series of surprise reforms.

Shin Gambira was sentenced to 68 years in prison for his role in the protests but was released in a mass amnesty of political prisoners on January 13.

Mental problems

In an interview last month, he said he had endured beatings, solitary confinement and sleep deprivation.

Several associates of Shin Gambira told Reuters they suspected he was suffering from mental problems because of the ill treatment and interrogation endured while in prison.

A fellow activist monk, known as Issariya, said he suspected Shin Gambira was detained for entering a monastery that had been sealed off by the authorities.