U Win Tin – A man of courage and integrity

“As long as the black stripes on the yellow background are vividly painted, the tiger is still a tiger.” – Win Tin, a journalist/poet/opposition politician/political prisoner

Interview with U Win Tin (Mizzima): Click here to read

U Win Tin is a journalist and a poet, renowned for his literary excellence and for his fearless beliefs in a free and democratic Burma. An indispensable figure to the Burma freedom movement, U Win Tin is, in the words of Aung San Suu Kyi, a man of courage and integrity. In 1988, in the midst of a nationwide democracy movement, popularly known as the 8888 Uprising, U Win Tin joined the National League for Democracy (NLD) and served as an adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi. Arrested in 1989 because of his senior position within the NLD, he was sentenced to 21 years in jail and served most of his sentence inside the notorious Insein prison. In 1996 while still in prison, U Win Tin wrote to the United Nations to highlight the subhuman prison conditions and unjust preferential treatment that went on inside Insein Prison. For his attempt, he received additional jail sentences. During his incarceration, U Win Tin was tortured, denied proper access to medical treatment, and spent much of his time in solitary confinement, also known as the military dog cells.

U Win Tin was finally released from prison in 2008. To this day, he remains the oldest and the longest serving political prisoner in Burma. Despite his health problems caused by the ill treatments inside the prison, at 81 years old, U Win Tin is still in the vanguard of political activities inside Burma. He decries the legitimacy of the upcoming 2010 elections and wears his blue prison shirt everyday as a testament to the lack of freedom in the country. In his most recent interview with Mizzima News, U Win Tin said; “Burma at this moment is like a jail, like a prison. The whole country is a prison and people are suffering. We talk about human rights violations and about the 2,000 political prisoners in jail now, but all people are prisoners. They are prisoners in their own country, in their own towns and homes.”

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