Junta frees veteran journalist & longest serving political prisoner, Win Tin
Tuesday, 23 September 2008 13:24
Burma’s longest serving political prisoner, veteran journalist U Win Tin has been released from detention on Tuesday.
The 78-year-old journalist U Win Tin, who had been detained for more than 19 years, was among the 9002 prisoners that Burma’s military government released on Tuesday.
Win Tin has reportedly arrive the resident of his long-time friend Maung Maung Khin, who frequently visited him while he was in detention.
Beside Win Tin, May Win Myint, an elected Member of Parliament (MP) in 1990 from Mayankone Township and Taungoo MP Aung Soe Myint, were also included among the release, Nyan Win, spokesperson of the National League for Democracy said.
So far the following political prisoners are confirmed to have been released:
Veteran Journalist U Win Tin from Insein Prison
Captain Win Htein, in-charge of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s office members
Khin Maung Swe, elected MP from San Chaung Township
Daw May Win Myint, elected MP from Mayankone Township
Aung Soe Myint, elected MP from Taungoo
Aye Thein, member of the National League for Democracy, Thabeikkyin Township
Interview with NLD information committee member Thein Nyunt
“U Win Tin and Daw May Win Myint are clients of mine whose cases I have handled. I am extremely happy to hear that they are released. As a lawyer, I want to say two things. No matter how they are released, I would like to see that my other fellow countrymen are released too. And hearing that other political prisoners are also among those released, I hope it is the beginning of a national reconciliation.”
Meanwhile, sources said Aye Thein, an elected Member of Parliament from the Thabeikkyin Township NLD, has also been released from Kale Prison in Upper Burma.
Interview with Maung Muang Khin, close friend of veteran journalist U Win Tin
“He [U Win Tin] has not yet been released. He is currently at the gate of the prison. People who saw him say that both U Win Tin and Daw May Win Myint, two long-term political prisoners, are together at the gate.
“I heard that at about 12:30 or 1 p.m. (local time) the authorities will give a speech and release them. When I analyze the information that I have received, it is almost certain that U Win Tin is to be released.
“As for us, since we heard that he has been released, we have to believe it.
“When I went to meet him on September 20 he already knew that some prisoners – such as the elderly and handicapped – would be released. However I argued with him, saying people arrested for political reasons should be released on political terms.
“So, if he is released on political terms, he is sure to come out.
“In 2005, the authorities did something similar. They took him to the gate of the prison, gave speeches and provided lunch, but later took him back to the prison.
“I am awaiting telephone calls. If he is released I will bring him to my house, as my house is just opposite the prison gate. A lot of people are also waiting in front of my house.”
Interview with Maung Maung Khin, U Win Tin’s friend
Time: 2:10 p.m. Burmese standard time
“The latest information we have is that U Win Tin is at the gate and will leave the prison by this evening.
“The government is now releasing prisoners batch by batch, including bandits, thieves, and those arrested for prostitution and illegal business.
“It [number of those released] is more than 100 now. They are dropping off those released in prison vans and there are no security personnel present. There are so many family members waiting for prisoners, hundreds of them.
“But I think our family is the only group waiting for U Win Tin. Please call us back for more updated information in another hour.”
Mizzima will continue providing updated information as it develops.