Known as a popular critic of former military leaders, U Win Tin died last April 21 due to kidney and other internal organ failures. Many Burmese have sincerely mourned his death since he has been recognized as a national hero. As they grieved, they brought to mind Win Tin’s invaluable role in the nationwide struggle for independence.
Born either in 1929 or 1930, Win Tin obtained his bachelor’s degree from Yangon (formerly Rangoon) University. He served as a journalist in Agence France-Presse (AFP) before becoming the top editor for numerous Burmese newspapers like The Hanthawaddy Daily. He also wrote several books, mainly on his philosophy. Due to his exemplar writings, he was regarded as Saya or the vernacular term for “the wise one.” He never got married yet he adopted a daughter.
In 1988, Win Tin helped established an influential political party called National League for Democracy (NLD). Because of his vocal opposition to the military regime, he was put into prison in 1989. The government imputed Win Tin as a communist but the latter denied the allegation.
In that small prison, he suffered hardships and torture for the next 19 years. In fact, it was in the dirty prison hospital that he lost his one of his testicles after an operation to remove hernia. He had also heart attacks twice inside the jail. Despite being imprisoned, he managed to write poems and philosophy, a proof that no one could hinder him in realizing his moral goal for his beloved country.
During the national elections of 1990, the NLD party won victoriously with the help of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Being a human rights avocate, Suu Kyi was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Unlike the case of Win Tin, the government had been hesitant to imprison Suu Kyi considering the fact that the latter’s father is hailed as one of the national heroes during Myanmar’s fight against British colonizers. However, Suu Kyi was still put under incarceration and was only released in 2010.
In 1996, the military government put in an additional seven years to Win Tin’s sentence. The action was in response to his letter to the United Nations wherein he described the dreadful conditions of prisoners in his country. He was only released in 2009. Last 2012, Win Tin rejoiced the triumph of NLD party as it won 43 out of 45 seats in the government.