Journalist and opposition leader Win Tin is about to be freed after 15 years in jail. His name was on a 19 November list of prisoners due for release but Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association said their sources reported he had not yet left prison.
The two press freedom organisations joined in calling on the Burmese authorities to end the ailing 74-year-old’s detention, at Insein Prison, Rangoon, as quickly as possible. Some sources had announced he was already free.
His release would mark the end of a long and painful ordeal for the journalist and his family. It would also provide a measure of hope to all prisoners still held in Burmese jails.
Win Tin (picture) was sentenced to a total of 20 years in prison, chiefly for having sent the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Burma information about prison conditions and illtreatment meted out to inmates at Insein Prison.
This is the prison in which Win Tin has been held since 4 July 1989. He has a number of ailments chiefly heart problems, which led to him being moved to hospital for treatment for short periods.
Former editor of the daily Hanthawathi, and vice-president of Burman’s Writers’ Association, Win Tin is also a leading member of the opposition party led by Aung San Suu Kyi, the National League for Democracy (NLD). He is the last of the party leadership to remain in jail following the crackdown of June and July 1989.
According to some of Reporters Without Borders’ sources, the authorities are hesitant to release Win Tin. Others say his release has been delayed because of his refusal to sign a statement pledging never to get involved in politics again.
Burma’s military junta on 18 November announced the release of nearly 4,000 prisoners following "irregularities" committed by the National Intelligence Bureau that was headed by former prime minister, Gen. Khin Nyunt.
Over 15 years ago, Reporters without Borders created its "Sponsorship Programme" and called upon the international media to select and support an imprisoned journalist. More than two hundreds news staffs around the globe are thus sponsoring colleagues by regularly petitioning authorities for their release and by publicising their situations so
that their cases will not be forgotten.
Currently, Win Tin is sponsored by Agencia Cover, Asociación de la Prensa de Cádiz, Amiens Métropole, Agriculture horizon, ARTE, Azur FM, Bel RTL, BFM, Cadena Ser, Club de la presse de Nîmes - La semaine de Nîmes, Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace, El Correo Español/El Pueblo Vasco, Enjeux Internationaux, France 3 Sud Languedoc-Roussillon, Humanisme, DESS de journalisme de l’Institut Français de Presse, L’Humanité, Le Courrier Picard, Le Journal du Dimanche, Le Monde, Le Peuple, La Rotonde, Le Soir, Le Soir Magazine, Le Vif/L’Express, Maire de France, Mairie de Romans - Romans Magazine, Perfiles, Radio Contact/Contact Inter, RTBF, RTL - TVI, Télérama, Tiempo, TV3 Catalunya, Varios, Vers l’avenir, Photographie.com