Published on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 16:57
Yangon-The co-founder of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and veteran journalist, Hanthawady Win Tin passed away at the age of 85 at the Yangon General Hospital on Monday morning.
Win Tin was admitted to Green Cross Hospital on the second week of March for a spinal disc hernia and was transferred to Witoriya Hospital on March 26 after suffering from lung and gastrointestinal diseases.
He suffered heart failure on March 29 and was then transferred to the Yangon General Hospital. He passed away at 6:30 am yesterday from multi-organ failure.
"First it started with bacterial colitis because of the infection. There was bleeding from the intestine. Leads were also in the intestinal wall. Those were the developments while we were treating him. Then, a process called DIC [disseminated intravascular coagulation] happened. The blood and marrows were affected due to the infection. White blood cells started dropping and this then affected the kidney and he passed away," said Professor Dr Khin Saw Than, who directly supervised in treating Win Tin.
"Another thing is he had a multi-organ failure so he passed away no matter what we did. Section heads from respective departments and professors held daily meetings for his treatments," she added.
"He was admitted to the hospital for around a month and a half," said Zaw Myo Aung, his pupil who was always around him to take care of his health.
"His condition improved during Thingyan. He was able to sit for around 45 minutes on April 14. He had rice porridge on the 15th. But his condition got worse on the 16th. There was an increase in waste products. His urine output was only 150 millilitre on the 17th. He didn't produce any urine on the 18th. Although the renal dialysis was successful, fluids entered his lungs. So, he received a third renal dialysis treatment. After the renal dialysis treatment, he started having respiratory distress since the night before passing away. Multi-organ failure is the main cause for his death. I felt like a golden mountain has toppled down. This is a huge loss for different sectors including literature and volunteer service," said Zaw Myo Aung.
According to Zaw Myo Aung, the veteran journalist continued writing articles even while in hospital.
He was able to finish an article before the water festival. The article has not been published yet and is still being edited. It is titled ‘Two Spits’. The first spit represents the sound of producing phlegm that has affected his health while the other is aimed at the military dictatorship as a gesture of its prejudices.
Two or three days before his death, the veteran author stated that Myanmar people were suffering from poverty just as before. He then predicted another public uprising due to issues such as land grabbing, racial and religious hatred, corruption, the Letpadaungtaung copper mine and Myitsone dam project.
Hanthawady Win Tin was born to the parents Daw Ama (mother) and U Pu (father) in Gyobingauk, Bago Region on March 12, 1930. He was the oldest of the three.
During the 1988 uprising, he was the vice-president of the Burmese Writers and Journalists Association and participated in the protests with the writer Thaw Ka and Aung San Suu Kyi. He was also one of the founders of the National League for Democracy (NLD).
His slogan, ‘Reject every order that against people will’ quickly spread throughout the country.
He was arrested on July 1989, one of the first to get arrested among other NLD members.
Win Tin was Myanmar’s longest serving political prisoner. He spent 19 years (1989 to 2008) behind bars. While in prison, he wrote the monograph ‘Aung San Suu Kyi and the SLORC to negotiate’. He also wrote ‘A request to the world’, asking world leaders to take action against Myanmar’s military regime and ‘A request to the Public’, urging the citizens to reject the dictatorship in Myanmar.
His report on the human rights violation in the Myanmar’s prisons had 93 pages describing the experiences of Myanmar political prisoners. When this report was sent to Yozo Okata, the United Nations Special Convoy on Human Rights to Myanmar, the Myanmar military government extended his jail term by seven years. While imprisoned, he also published his hand-written D-Wave periodicals.
All the political prisoners in Myanmar accept Win Tin as the leader of their struggle for rights in prison and a willing helper to fellow cellmates.
He was released from prison on September 23, 2008.
Win Tin wrote the book ‘Search for beauty’ under the pen name Paw Thit. And he also wrote books on translation titled “Northern Light” and “Queed” and books on his tours of communist countries. His pen names are Paw Thit, Maung Won Zin, Pyi Soe, Win Tin, Pone Nya, Win Swe, Thutaythi (researcher) and editor. His contemporary school mates are Tun Tin (the lawyer), Kyaw Aung (the writer), Kyi Lin and Mya Than Tint.
Win Tin described in his autobiography titled ‘What is the human hell?’ that torture and interrogation in prison was inhumane and animal-like. He also expressed his feelings of political prisoners in his book:
“I am a hard-liner and want to mix all views and thoughts. Since the day I was released from the jail, I have been wearing my jail uniform. I always have a feeling of the hell of bitter life in the prison. I feel there are so many people like me. My colleagues have been extending a helping hand to me since I came out of jail. I spent all the assistances I received for the affairs of political prisoners.”
He provided assistance to journalists and old political prisoners and their families after the establishment of the U Win Tin Foundation. Win Tin received the UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Award in 2001.
And the same year, he also won the World Association of Newspapers' Golden Pen of Freedom Award along with San San Nwet (Tharyarwaddy).
Myanmar Press Union published U Dan magazine in 2004 with the funds from his awards. A road in France was named Win Tin Road in honour of Win Tin. His corpse was carried to Yayway cemetery via the Yangon People’s Hospital on April 21. His funeral service will be held in the Yayway cemetery on April 23.
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