Former Myanmar political detainee won't give up prison shirt

Thu Apr 11, 2013 4:39am EDT
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By Jared Ferrie and Aung Hla Tun

YANGON (Reuters) - For almost two decades in Myanmar's notorious Insein Prison, Win Tin wore the blue shirt issued to all inmates. He kept it after his release in 2008 out of solidarity with other political prisoners who remained in jail.

Now the police want it back, but Win Tin is refusing.

"So long as there are political prisoners here, I feel that I myself am still in jail, so I will wear the blue shirt," he told Reuters, wearing a copy of the original.

Win Tin, 83, was imprisoned after helping found the National League for Democracy (NLD) with Aung San Suu Kyi, who led the fight against military rule in Myanmar and spent 15 years under house arrest. She and other NLD members now sit in parliament.

The current president, Thein Sein, was a general and a member of the junta, but he heads a quasi-civilian government that has embarked on a series of reforms over the past two years, including the release of hundreds of political prisoners.

Not good enough, says Win Tin, a celebrated journalist.

"Although I'm said to be free, I am still a prisoner, because the whole country is prisoner to this military regime," he said, arguing the 2008 constitution should be rewritten to exclude the military from politics.

The constitution gives a quarter of the seats in both houses of parliament to the military and says serving generals should occupy the ministries of defense, interior and border affairs.   Continued...

Win Tin poses in one of his prison issued shirts as he shows another one of the blue shirts at his home in Yangon April 9, 2013. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun