Kyaw Phyo Tha
[gallery type="slideshow" size="full" ids="81548,81547,81549,81550,81551,81552,81553,81554"] RANGOON — Colleagues, activists and admirers took time on Tuesday to remember Win Tin, one of Burma’s most famous champions of democracy, by marking the first anniversary of his death in Rangoon. Win Tin, who cofounded the National League for Democracy (NLD) along with the party’s current chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi, was a veteran journalist known for his relentless activism and outspoken opposition to Burma’s former military regime. He died of multiple organ failure last year at the age of 84. Also known as one of Burma’s longest serving political prisoners, Win Tin spent almost two decades behind bars, beginning in 1989, for cofounding the NLD and later for attempting to alert the United Nations to human rights violations in the country’s prisons. In honor of the late activist, hundreds of people including Suu Kyi attended a commemoration ceremony in Rangoon. During a 13-minute speech dedicated to her fellow democracy icon, the leader of Burma’s main opposition party described him as “dutiful and faithful to the party, [a man] who worked hardest among the party secretary members.” “[Considering what he endured], no one can sacrifice like he did, but we have to hold him up as a model. ... I want to honor him as a democracy comrade,” she said to the gathered audience. Among the crowd, many donned blue tops in honor of the revered dissident, who wore his blue prison shirt until his death in a show of solidarity with those who remained behind bars for political reasons. Even after a new quasi-civilian government came to power in 2011, Win Tin condemned the Burma Army’s continuing role in the country’s reform process. He was also one of the few people who dared to question the tactics of Suu Kyi, whom he described as “too conciliatory” toward the generals who had once jailed him and placed her under house arrest. Win Tin was one of the earliest critics of the NLD chairwoman, saying she was overly eager to compromise and work within a system of entrenched military power. “Even though we sometimes had different opinions, we negotiated successfully. We never resented each other,” she said Tuesday. “We have found solutions for the good of the people, not by putting our own interests first. I think that is the way to honor him,” she added. The memorial event included a public display arranged in tribute to Win Tin. At one corner of the hall, a table bore a large portrait of the late activist and books he had written on subjects ranging from journalism to European art to travelogues. A blue prison shirt was folded beside the books, while his wooden walking stick was laid on top of the table. Down the hall, photographs documenting his political activities were on display along with handwritten manuscripts and some of the author’s best-known quotes, such as: “If we are not dutiful in our time, the next generation will blame us. We should at least serve as a model that they should adopt for freedom and justice.” At the event, the NLD’s patron Tin Oo called Win Tin “someone who deserves praise” for his dogged pro-democracy convictions and activism after his release from prison, often in spite of ill health. Tin Oo, himself a former general, added that his colleague had never let his own individual beliefs trump the party line and was determined to successfully carry out the NLD’s collective will. “If he were alive these days, he could write about and point out more relating to current political dynamics locally and internationally. I don’t have that kind of ability like he did,” Tin Oo said.

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