Tuesday, 23 September, 2008 7:16 PMSEAPA Alert: Burmese journalist U Win Tin released after 19 years in prison
Burmese journalist U Win Tin, the longest-serving political
prisoner in military-ruled Burma, was released on September 23,
along with 9,000 others, media reports said.
Mizzima News Agency, a SEAPA partner, said that aside from U Win
Tin, who had been incarcerated in Burma’s notorious Insein prison
for 19 years, several other political prisoners have also been
A report from Reuters quoted U Win Tin as saying, “I will keep
fighting until the emergence of democracy in this country.”
Also granted amnesty were Daw May Win Maung, an elected Member of
Parliament (MP) in 1990 from Mayankone Township, Taungoo MP Aung
Soe Myint, and National League for Democracy (NLD) member U Aye
Thin, according to NLD spokesperson Nyan Win.
The Southeast Asian Press Alliance — a coalition of press freedom
advocacy groups from the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia –
welcomes the release of U Win Tin. At the same time, the coalition
notes that many more political prisoners remain in Burma’s jails.
SEAPA therefore maintains its call for the immediate and
unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience in Burma.
About U Win Tin
U Win Tin is a former editor of the “Hanthawathi” newspaper and
founder of the NLD, which was denied the right to govern the
country despite its landslide win in the 1991 general election.
Until his release, he was the longest-serving political prisoner in
military-ruled Burma. He had been behind bars for more years than
even NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
U Win Tin was sentenced in 1989 to a total prison term of 20 years
on various charges, which included instigation to civil
disobedience against martial law, and publishing “anti-government
propaganda”, including his denouncing of human rights abuses at
Insein. Despite widespread reports of his failing health, promises
of his release in 2004 and 2005 were not fulfilled.
The International Committee of the Red Cross had been barred from
visiting him since 2006. U Win Tin has had two heart attacks and
has suffered from high blood pressure, diabetes and an inflammatory
disease that affects the spine. His poor health was exacerbated by
ill treatment, which has included torture, lack of medical
treatment, solitary confinement without bedding, and being deprived
of food and water for long periods of time. Even though a prison
doctor attends to him twice a month, he is dependent on medication
and food brought by his family and friends.