RANGOON — Supporters of the late writer and democracy activist U Win Tin are calling for a garden or memorial to honor him on the third anniversary of his death.
A commemoration was held at Rangoon’s Tawwin Hninzi Hall on Friday for the renowned journalist and political prisoner ‘Hanthawaddy’ U Win Tin, known so for his time editing the Hanthawaddy Daily, critical of the late dictator Gen Ne Win’s regime.
National League for Democracy (NLD) patron U Tin Oo, Rangoon Division Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein, U Min Ko Naing of the 88-Generation Peace and Open Society, and other former political prisoners and activists attended the service.
“Hanthawady U Win Tin was an iconic figure. I have an idea of building a memorial or a garden to honor him,” U Tin Oo told the attendees.
“Countries of profound cultural and historical significance not only honor those who built the nation with military might, but also scholars and men of letters who built the country with intellectual might,” said U Min Ko Naing. “I want to see not only warriors but men of letters recognized here.”
Rangoon’s chief minister declined to comment on the suggestion. The divisional government is currently dealing with the loss of billions of kyats from long-term reduced rent leasing agreements for land within public parks, agreed to by the previous government and private companies.
Lawmakers are set to discuss the losses at the divisional parliament on Monday.
Former political prisoners in attendance stressed the need to build political cohesion between democratic forces, and demanded all political prisoners be released. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), there are 178 political prisoners in Burma.
Win Tin was imprisoned by the military regime for 19 years from 1989 to 2008 for his writings, which were critical of the junta, and his role in the NLD which he co-founded after the 1988 pro-democracy uprising.
On his release he kept his blue prison shirt and pledged to wear blue shirts every day until all political prisoners were released. He continued to wear the color until his death.
In 2001, U Win Tin was awarded the UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize for his efforts to defend and promote the right to freedom of expression. A street in France was also named after him in his honor.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko