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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2733

Burmese Journalists demand release of 78-year old journalist U Win Tin after 18 years in prison

Bangkok, 02 July, ( The Burma Media Association (BMA) has called on authorities in Burma today to immediately release distinguished journalist U Win Tin, who is languishing in prison. He has spent 18 years of a 20-year sentence in prison on an alleged fabricated anti-government charges.

U Win Tin, who is the country's longest serving political prisoner, was originally imprisoned in 4 July 1989. He has been sentenced three times, each time while incarcerated. At present he is serving a seven-year sentence following a testimony he sent to the UN about the human rights violations of political prisoners.

The journalist recently told a friend who is allowed to visit him: "Two prison officers asked me at a special meeting last week whether I would resume political activities if I were released. I told them that I will definitely do so since it is my duty as a citizen to strive for democracy."

U Win Tin has constantly refused to sign a document promising to give up political activities as a condition of his release.

The journalist has had two heart attacks and has suffered from high blood pressure, diabetes and an inflammatory disease that affects spine. His poor state of health was exacerbated by ill treatment in prison, which has included torture, inadequate access to medical treatment, solitary confinement without bedding, and being deprived of food and water for long periods of time.

Even though he is checked twice a month by a prison doctor, he is dependent on the help of his friends who regularly bring him medication and food.

"No sensible person can accept such cruelty of this military regime which has imprisoned a sick 78-year-old man for 18 years. According to prison laws he has been eligible for early release since July 2006," said BMA secretary Son Moe Wai. "We call for him to be freed at once."

The journalist was awarded the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, the World Association of Newspapers' Golden Pen of Freedom Award and Reporters Without Border/Foundation de France Prize for his efforts to defend and promote freedom of expression.

- Asian Tribune -

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