Funeral Plans Weigh Win Tin’s Wish Against Desire to Pay Tribute

By The Irrawaddy 21 April 2014

Within 12 hours of the passing of veteran journalist Win Tin, a debate appears to have risen and then been settled over how best to bid farewell to a man considered to belong among the pantheon of Burma’s greatest pro-democracy leaders.

Top officials from the National League for Democracy—which Win Tin cofounded in 1988—say that prior to his death, the 84-year-old had requested that his body be interred soon after his passing, in the process foregoing the elaborate and drawn-out funeral arrangements that often accompany the burial of prominent public figures. Tin Oo, the NLD’s patron, said the late Win Tin “didn’t want to bother people” when his time came.

“But we have so many organizations here [in Burma]: the NLD, artists’ and journalists’ communities, and political prisoners—they all want to honor him and pay last respects to him,” Tin Oo said.

It is believed that NLD leaders, including the opposition party’s chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi, held a meeting to discuss funeral arrangements for Win Tin after he passed away on Monday morning at the age of 84. Opinion on the matter was said to be divided, with some pushing to have the veteran journalist’s wish honored—that people “not be bothered” by his passing—while others insisted that the public be afforded the opportunity to pay last respects to a man revered as a champion of Burma’s pro-democracy movement.

Win Tin was never married and is survived by no children, meaning decisions regarding funeral arrangements will not fall to the traditional next-of-kin titleholders.

In a statement released late on Monday, the NLD said a wake for Win Tin would be held on Wednesday from 12-5pm at Yay Way cemetery on the outskirts of Rangoon, with the public welcome to join in paying last respects. He will be buried at 5pm the same day, the party said.

Burma has in the past honored some national leaders by burying them at the foot of Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma’s most sacred Buddhist site. Those interred there include Khin Kyi, the wife of independence hero Gen. Aung San; Thakin Kodaw Hmaing, a leading literary light and political activist; and U Thant, the former UN secretary-general.