U Win Tin undergoes hospital treatment

Jan 25, 2008 (DVB), U Win Tin, a veteran journalist and political prisoner of 18 years, has been admitted to Rangoon general hospital to undergo an operation for a hernia.

U Maung Maung Khin, a regular visitor to U Win Tin, told DVB that the 77-year-old journalist was taken to Rangoon general hospital from his cell in Insein prison on 22 January.

"He was sent to the hospital at around 11pm on Tuesday where they conducted checkups on his body. But U Win Tin didn’t seem to know why they were doing it," said U Maung Maung Khin.

U Maung Maung Khin met U Win Tin at the police station before he went into hospital.

U Win Tin told U Maung Maung Khin that the Insein prison doctor had told him not to eat anything after 10pm, and asked him to pass a message to his supporters that he has been in good health.

"He said they did a checkup on him in the prison before sending him [to the police station]. He had no idea what was going to happen. He said to me that he has been in very good health," said U Maung Maung Khin.

"He said to tell everyone in the ‘outside world’ that he has been in good health."

U Win Tin was one of the original members of the National League for Democracy’s central working committee when the organisation was founded in 1988.

He was detained by the military junta in 1989 and was sentenced to 3 years' imprisonment in July of that year, and was given another 12 year imprisonment in 1991.

In 1996, authorities added seven more years to U Win Tin's sentence after he wrote a letter to the United Nation’s Human Rights Commission about human rights violations in Burmese prisons.

In 2004, authorities decided to free him but changed their mind at the last minute, when he was already at the prison gates, and put him back in his cell.

Speaking on his 77th birthday on 12 March 2007, U Win Tin reassured his supporters that he has not changed his stance on freedom for all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and calling for dialogue and parliamentary discussion.

U Win Tin was awarded the World Press Freedom Prize and the Golden Pen of Freedom Award in 2001.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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