13 March 2003
Leading journalist U Win Tin "celebrates" his 73rd birthday in detention
(RSF/IFEX) - RSF and the Burma Media Association (BMA) have reiterated their call for the release of detained journalist U Win Tin on medical grounds. On 12 March 2003, the journalist celebrated his 73rd birthday in Rangoon general hospital, where he is being treated for a heart condition.
One of the country's best-known journalists and a member of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), U Win Tin has spent the last 13 years of his life in prison. RSF and the BMA fear that his already fragile health will only get worse if he is sent back to prison from hospital, and hope the Burmese authorities will show some compassion.
The two organisations have stressed that they oppose any lifting of political or economic sanctions against the Burmese government until all political prisoners are released and press censorship ends.
U Win Tin was transferred from prison to Rangoon general hospital on 22 November 2002 and has since been confined to one of the 15-square-metre rooms for political prisoners, in the hospital's basement. A doctor examines him daily and he receives medicine that is appropriate to his condition.
An Amnesty International delegation, making its first ever fact-finding mission to Burma at the military junta's invitation, visited U Win Tin in his hospital room on 5 February. They were able to meet for over one hour. Upon their return to Europe, members of the delegation reported that U Win Tin's morale was excellent and that his state of health was reasonable. Yet, he also suffers from urinary problems.
The former editor of the newspaper "Hanthawadi" and vice-president of the Association of Burmese Writers, U Win Tin has been detained since 4 July 1989. He has been convicted and sentenced three times to a total of 20 years in prison. One of his convictions came after he sent a report on the conditions of detention and the ill-treatment of inmates at Insein Prison to the United Nations special rapporteur for Burma.
RSF set up a sponsorship programme 13 years ago whereby international news organisations are asked to support imprisoned journalists. Currently, 120 news media support imprisoned journalists by repeatedly appealing to the authorities for their release and by reporting on their situation so their cases are not forgotten.
U Win Tin is supported by "Agriculture horizon", ARTE, Azur FM, Bel RTL, BFM, Cadena SER, Nîmes Press Club - "La semaine de Nîmes", "Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace", "Entrejovenes", France 3 sud Languedoc-Roussillon, "Humanisme", Institut pratique de Journalisme, "L'Humanité", "Le Courrier Picard", "Le Journal du Dimanche", "Le Monde", "Le Peuple", "Le Soir", "Le Soir Magazine", "Le Vif/L'Express", "Maire de France", "Mairie de Romans - Romans Magazine", Perfiles, RTBF, RTL-TVI, Télérama, TV3 de CATALUNYA, "Varios" and "Vers l'avenir".