Colleagues and Friends Remember Win Tin

By Kyaw Kha, Political Parties 21 April 2014

RANGOON — People across Burma mourned the passing on Monday of 84-year-old democracy activist Win Tin, a veteran journalist and co-founder of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party. Before supporters pay their last respects, The Irrawaddy asked his friends and colleagues to share how they will remember him.

Aung San Suu Kyi, chairwoman of the NLD

“I pay my respects to Saya U Win Tin, who raised the dignity of the NLD, Burmese politics, Burma and humankind.”

Ohn Pe, journalist

“U Win Tin was my mentor, not just a colleague, when we were at Kyaymone [newspaper]. When it came to work, he was really serious. When he moved to Hanthawaddy daily, he never failed to report what was happening in the country, making the paper quite different from other government-run papers. That’s why he was fired. His death is not only a loss to his family and party, but to the entire nation. He didn’t live for himself, but for his friends and comrades.”

Tha Ban, journalist

“This is a great loss for Burmese media. For Burmese politics, a great wall has fallen. He didn’t care about his personal matters. When it came to journalism, he always thought about how to serve the people. When he was in jail, he worked for the people. He didn’t care a fig about jail. I first met him at Kyaymone newspaper, and we developed a good friendship. We were like brothers. …I’m sure he will rest in peace. I pray for him to become a journalist in his next life.”

Maung Maung Aye, secretary for ex-Prime Minister Kyaw Nyein

“He always stood for truth and what he believed was for the good of his country. Unlike other people, he was not so concerned with ideologies. He was concerned with democracy, his people and his country. This is what he discussed whenever he visited me.”

Pe Myint, writer and editor-in-chief of the People’s Age weekly journal

“U Win Tin was a journalist turned politician. … There’s no wonder why someone like him stood out from other politicians. Having been a journalist, he always cared about the truth, which made him a man of principle, and he was not interested in bargaining like other politicians. He stood firmly on his beliefs. …He had different points of view than Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, but he regarded her as the leader of his party and he followed her decisions, while also speaking openly about his thoughts. That’s what made U Win Tin different from others.”

Than Chaung, spokesman for the Communist Party of Burma

“He passed away at a moment when the country still really needs him. He was the one who spoke the truth about the current political landscape in Burma, without taking sides or giving favor to cronies, NGOs or the Burmese government. … There are fewer and fewer people like him today who are influential and brave enough to stand for the truth. Before, there were influential people who were outspoken, such as Ludu Sein Win and Saya Dagon Tayar. But now we have none of them. He is gone now, and it is a big loss for the country and our people.”

Mya Aye, member of the 88 Generation Students Group

“He was determined and firmly stood by his beliefs until his last breath. We must be proud of him and think of him as a role-model politician …He didn’t want to bother anyone. He even had a wish for an immediate funeral. He was a selfless man. He didn’t want any property for himself, he only served the country. He deserved to see that which he sacrificed for.

Myint Kyaw, journalist

“U Win Tin had two different backgrounds, serving as both a journalist and a politician. He became a politician after 1988. But he always stood for press freedom. Even though he was not able to fully focus on media work, he was always interested in journalists and cared about journalistic works.”

Derek Mitchell, US Ambassador to Burma

“It was with great sadness that I learned of my friend U Win Tin’s passing this morning. As newspaper editor, author, poet, and for nearly two decades, political prisoner, U Win Tin was a man of rare integrity and courage, a man who dedicated his life to democratic principles, particularly the principle of press freedom, even under enormous hardship. After his release from prison, he continued to demonstrate his commitment to justice by establishing a foundation to assist former political prisoners and their families—and by continuing to wear his prisoner’s blue shirt until all such prisoners were back with their families. U Win Tin will be greatly missed, but his example will continue to serve as an inspiration to all those everywhere who are dedicated to seeking and speaking the truth in the face of injustice. I offer my deepest condolences to his family, his colleagues, and his many friends around the world who cherished him, and who already miss his unique voice.”