Senior National League for Democracy (NLD) member Win Tin is in hospital with breathing problems while his colleague, Tin Oo, may have to fly to Singapore for surgery on his eye.
The two luminaries of Burma’s pro-democracy movement are both in their eighties. Win Tin, who spent 19 years in prison and ranks as Burma’s longest-serving political prisoner, is 81. A close aide, Maung Maung Khin, said that he was submitted to Asia Royal General Hospital in Rangoon on Sunday morning.
“It’s not very serious. He began to cough up a lot and was having difficulty breathing so we had to send him to the hospital,” she said. “He’s being checked up by doctors and is on medication. He began getting much better after he was given oxygen.”
Meanwhile, NLD deputy Tin Oo may have to fly to Singapore for treatment on a lasting eye problem.
“Right before I was released [from house arrest in February] I lost sight in my left eye after plasma started seeping out of the centre of the eye,” the 83-year-old told DVB. “I can still see with my right eye but I can’t see people clearly so I will have to get treatment, perhaps laser treatment.”
The condition has been going on for about eight months and he has been using eye drops for three months. “If that doesn’t work, then I will need to have an operation – I’m preparing for that now,” he said.
“I have applied for my passport. It has not yet been granted but I think I will get it. Basically, I don’t have to go through the [passport application] myself as the hospital [in Singapore] will take care of it when I register there as a patient. There is only one concern; about the accommodation there. It would be difficult for me to rent a place.”
Tin Oo was released earlier this year after spending six years under house arrest. He had been arrested along with NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi in May 2003 after the Depayin massacre, when a junta-backed mob attacked a convoy of NLD supporters, killing around 70.
By that point Win Tin had already been in prison for 14 years, having been arrested in July 1989 on charges that included “anti-government propaganda” – as well as being a senior NLD member from its inception in 1988, he was also a prominent journalist.
Burma’s healthcare system is notoriously poor, with the military government thought to spend only US$0.70 per person each year on healthcare.