Don’t Be Afraid to Honor a Burmese Hero!

By Ko Aung 23 April 2014

Today, Burma will put Uncle Win Tin, the fearless defender of the rights of the oppressed, to rest. To honor him, we should all be equally courageous and show no fear in paying him the respect he is due.

Of course, most Burmese will not hesitate to pay tribute to this fallen hero. But do the country’s past and present rulers have the nerve to honor a man they imprisoned for nearly 20 years?

It’s no good for the present “reformist” government to act as if bears no responsibility for the way Uncle Win Tin and countless others like him were treated by the former regime. The whole country knows that our president is no Gorbachev, but just a puppet of the old Than Shwe dictatorship.

Let’s see if the self-styled “reformists” now in power have the audacity to say that Uncle Win Tin was a great man—a man who should have been treated like a national hero, not a common criminal.

Those who admire Uncle Win Tin will attend his funeral, or sing songs in his honor and pray for him. Will any Western or Asian government officials who have embraced the ex-military government turn up? How about the former spy chief Khin Nyunt, the man who had Uncle Win Tin locked up and tortured for his political convictions? Will he attend? Let’s wait and see.

How will the United Nations and the governments of Norway, Australia, Germany and other countries that have applauded the Thein Sein administration’s “reforms” respond to the outpouring of grief at the loss of Uncle Win Tin? Will they share the Burmese people’s sadness, or just shed crocodile tears and continue doing business as usual with Naypyidaw’s wolves in sheep’s clothing when the funeral is over?

Today is a sad day for Burma, but it is not a day to stay silent. The only way to honor Uncle Win Tin is by clearly standing with him and the principles he spent a lifetime trying to defend. It is the least we can do for a man who has given so much for his country.