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Burma 11 March 2005

"Happy 75th birthday to Win Tin, in prison for the past 16 years"
Reporters Without Borders activists held at Burmese embassy in Paris

Two Reporters Without Borders representatives have been held for two hours, with a French police officer, inside the Burmese embassy in Paris. Other activists were surrounded by policemen outside. Reporters Without Borders went to the embassy in an attempt to give a letter to the ambassador, who refused it. The embassy has threatened to file a complaint against Reporters Without Borders.

Win Tin, Burma’s most famous journalist, will celebrate his 75th birthday tomorrow in his cell in Rangoon’s sadly notorious Insein prison, Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association said today. Since his arrest on 4 July 1989, he has been deprived of his basic rights, in particular, the right to receive proper medical treatment and the right to be able to write.

Despite recent announcements that he would be included in the release of a number of detainees, the military junta did not free this respected intellectual, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for various alleged offences including "anti-government propaganda."

Win Tin has had two heart attacks since he was imprisoned. For several years, the septuagenarian has had to spend frequent spells in a Rangoon hospital where a number of small rooms are reserved for prisoners.

Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association take action

Reporters Without Borders activists today gave the Burmese ambassador to France symbolic birthday presents labelled "Pens", "Medicine" and "Newspapers" - items which the Burmese authorities have denied Win Tin for the past 16 years.

Burmese journalists and foreign correspondents met at the Foreign Correspondents Club in the Thai capital of Bangkok yesterday. They heard Zin Linn, one of Win Tin’s former fellow detainees, describe the man they call Saya, the Sage. They also heard Burmese reporter Khin Maung Win and British journalist Larry Jagan describe their experiences in Burma and the constraints under which the Burmese press has to work.

A symbolic gift for Win Tin was also presented today during a press conference in the international tourism fair in Berlin by a representative of the German section of Reporters Without Borders.

The Burma Media Association has devoted a special issue of its Burmese-language magazine Oodan entirely to Win Tin. It contains articles he wrote and tributes from Burmese writers and international figures.

Reporters Without Borders has also produced a Win Tin poster that shows him behind bars and has the words: "Happy 75th Birthday to Win Tin, in prison for the past 16 years." And the Reporters Without Borders website had made Win Tin the subject of its "Journalist in the news" special page, in English, French and Spanish. See the special page in english.

Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association urge you to sign an international petition. Click here.

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