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Jul 7, 2008 (DVB), Supporters of U Win Tin have called for his release from prison as the veteran journalist and National League for Democracy member marked 19 years behind bars on 4 July.
Ludu Sein Win, a close friend and colleague of U Win Tin, paid tribute to his friend's integrity and commitment.
"I want to see him freed as he is my co-worker and he is like a brother to me. Also, prison life is not suitable for someone of his age," Ludu Sein Win said.
"He is a man with high moral values , he has never in his life looked for personal gain. He devoted his whole life to his country and to journalism," he said.
"There has been no one else as good and as clever as him in his lifetime. I’m only worried that I will never see him alive again."
Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association issued a statement last week urging the military regime to release U Win Tin to allow him to seek medical treatment.
"The government, which has a responsibility to protect the life of its citizens, should now release him," the groups said.
"He should be moved to a hospital as soon as possible."
U Win Tin was born on 12 March 1931 in Kyo Pin Hout township, Bago division, to U Tu and Daw Ahmar, and is the nephew of Bo Min Khaung, one of the 30 comrades.
After graduating from Rangoon University, he was sent to Amsterdam as a scholar as part of a Burmese encyclopedia project.
In October 1969 U Win Tin became chief editor of Mandalay's Hantharwaddy newspaper, and was jailed when the newspaper was shut down by the government.
He was jailed again by the State Law and Order Restoration Council in 1989, and has been sentenced to three, ten and seven years' imprisonment by successive secret tribunals held inside Insein prison.
He has suffered heart problems during his time in prison, and underwent a hernia operation earlier this year.
He is currently having difficulties eating and sleeping due to lung problems and severe asthma attacks.
U Win Tin has been the recipient of press freedom awards from UNESCO in 2001 and from Reporters Without Borders in 2006.
Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw