He will remain one of the great moral figures of our era who placed universal values above all considerations. One of these emblematic figures who, from within prisons cells, have continued shaping the destiny of their people and fighting for their rights. U Win Tin, a key actor in the struggle for freedom and democracy in Burma, spent 19 years of his life behind bars, many of which in solitary confinement. A journalist and thinker enjoying considerable political and moral authority, he has contributed to the promotion of ideals that are the essence of our humanity: freedom and dignity. Released in 2008, U Win Tin decided to continue wearing a blue shirt, the colour of the prisoners’ uniform, as a permanent statement of solidarity with those who remained incarcerated and a daily promise to pursue the struggle for freedom.
Fadwa Barghouthi, wife of Marwan Barghouthi and Head of the Popular Campaign to free Marwan and all Palestinian prisoners said: “When we asked U Win Tin to join the International High Level Committee for the freedom of Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian prisoners, he immediately accepted and said he would be honoured to take part in the Committee while apologising for not being able to participate more actively due to his health problems and to the difficulties to travel abroad. He considered he had a duty to show solidarity with political prisoners everywhere, and that is why he joined the struggle for the freedom of Palestinian prisoners. Today, it is our turn to tell him we are honoured that he joined this struggle and humbled by his sacrifices in his unwavering commitment to peoples’ and human rights. He embodied the idea that freedom is indivisible and universal, and reminded us that we all have our role to play to allow it to prevail. U Win Tin passed away, but his struggles and ours will remain interlinked, and his life will continue to be a compass guiding generations to come”.
Biography: Co-founder with Aung San Suu Kyi of the National League for democracy, he spent two decades in Burmese jails. Journalist, author and poet, Win Tin was awarded the UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize for his efforts to defend and promote freedom of expression. That year, he was also awarded the World Association of Newspapers’ Golden Pen of Freedom Award.