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Burma 18 August 2005

UN special envoy asked to intervene on behalf of Win Tin

Reporters Without Borders has appealed to the UN special envoy for Burma, former Indonesian foreign minister Ali Alatas, to intervene on behalf of imprisoned journalist Win Tin during a three-day visit to Burma beginning today in which he is to meet Gen. Soe Win, the prime minister.

Dear Mr. Alatas,

Reporters Without Borders would like to draw your attention to the case of U Win Tin, a Burmese journalist and adviser to the National League for Democracy (NLD), who has been imprisoned since July 1989. In particular, we request that you press for his release during your official visit to Burma and your meeting with the prime minister, Gen. Soe Win.

Now aged 75, U Win Tin has been imprisoned for 16 years for peacefully opposing the government. He has been deprived of his basic rights, including the right to a fair trial and the right to acceptable prison conditions. His detention highlights the way Burma’s judicial system has been co-opted to put a stop to peaceful free expression.

Imprisoned above all because of his involvement with the NLD, U Win Tin received additional jail terms for trying to alert the United Nations about human rights violations in Burmese prisons. The authorities also accused him of writing articles and poems for circulation within the prison, where the possession of pen and paper is banned. His already poor health has been aggravated by ill-treatment, including torture, lack of medical care, detention in a cell without bedding (one normally used for army dogs) and deprivation of food and water for long periods.

Many of Burma’s 1,350 political prisoners are prisoners of conscience who have been jailed for their peaceful use of the right to free expression. Many are old or ill, or have been given such long sentences that they have no hope of being released before reaching the age of 70 or 80. The authorities continue to arrest and hold political activists in secret, denying them access to lawyers and due process, and to harass former political prisoners and activists.

We appeal to your to use your influence with the Burmese government to get Win Tin released. We think this is a timely moment for you to intercede because, since the start of August, Win Tin has qualified under Burmese law for release for good conduct. As a former journalist yourself, you will undoubtedly be receptive to our request.

We are confident you will give us positive response.


Reporters Without Borders

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