Just moments after he left the Insein Prison in the main city of Rangoon, the ailing 78-year-old told reporters he would continue his struggle against decades of military rule of Burma, which is also known as Myanmar. "I will keep fighting until the emergence of democracy in this country," he told media outside a friend’s house. He was seen still wearing his light-blue prison clothes.
Win Tin was arrested in 1989 and sentenced to 20 years in jail for allegedly writing anti-government propaganda. Tuesday’s release came as Burma announced the release of some 9,000 prisoners for good behavior.
It was not clear how many of Burma’s estimated two thousand political prisoners, including many Christians, were included in the amnesty. Human rights and advocacy groups, including the Montagnard Foundation Incorporated and Open Doors, long pressured the junta to release at least hundreds of Christians known to be jailed in Vietnam.
The state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper said 9,002 prisoners would be released due to good conduct and "to enable them to serve the interests of the regions and their own and the fair election to be held in 2010". "Plans are being made for those serving prison terms to turn them into citizens to be able to participate in building a new nation," it said.
The elections are part of Burma’s long announced road map to democracy, which will give voters the first chance to cast ballots since 1990. Western nations have dismissed the road map as a sham designed to keep the military in power.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition National League for Democracy won a landslide victory in 1990 elections, but the military refused to acknowledge the victory. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been under house arrest for 13 of the last 19 years.