Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières) and the Burma Media Association (of Burmese journalists in exile) today voiced their concern about the health of detained journalist and pro-democracy activist Win Tin, who was transferred to Rangoon general hospital on 23 November.
"Following the recent release of around 100 political prisoners, the Burmese military government should pursue this policy by freeing ailing political prisoners as a priority," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard and Burma Media Association chairman U Thaung said in a letter to the interior minister, Col. Tin Hlaing. Win Tin, who is 72 and has been imprisoned for the past 13 years, should be an immediate beneficiary of such a policy, the letter said.
Win Tin was taken to the district hospital near Insein prison, on the outskirts of Rangoon, on 22 November for tests in connection with a heart ailment. Because of his electrocardiogram result and the existence of a localised infection, a doctor requested his transfer to Rangoon general hospital the next day.
Since then, he has been kept in one of the rooms for political prisoners in the hospital’s ground floor where Htwe Myint and Doctor Than Nyein, members of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy are also being treated. Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association have been told that he is being held in a room of about 15 square metres, where he is examined by a doctor every day and receives medicine appropriate for his condition.
Conditions at Insein prison have taken a heavy toll on Win Tin’s health, and he has had to be hospitalised several times. While in prison, he has had two heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes and spondylitis (an inflammation of the vertebrae). He has also undergone an operation for a hernia.