Thu 24 Apr 2014
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
Up to a hundred thousand people gathered at Yayway Cemetery in Yangon on Wednesday for the funeral of Hanthwady Win Tin, veteran journalist and co-founder of the National League for Democracy (NLD).
He passed away at Yangon General Hospital on Monday at the age of 85 after suffering from multi-organ failure. Win Tin was one of Myanmar’s longest-serving political prisoners and most stalwart pro-democracy activists.
His colleagues, party leaders, activists, former political prisoners, civic organisations, writers, journalists, artists and thousands of members of the public arrived at the cemetery to pay homage to Win Tin.
“We started the funeral service at 12 noon at Hall No. (1) of Yayway Cemetery. People kept coming until 5 pm. At 4:45 pm, we had to stop the people paying respect to Win Tin. We estimate 100,000 people came to the funeral,” said Kyi Toe from the NLD’s information department.
He added that they tried to count the number of mourners by using stickers but the 30,000 stickers they prepared ran out within a few hours. Mourners were allowed to queue in pairs and enter the funeral parlour starting at 12 noon but some were still queuing by 4:45 pm.
NLD Chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi, patron Tin Oo, central committee members Nyan Win, Ohn Kyaing, Win Htein, Su Su Lwin and Soe Win, were joined by high-profile ambassadors and diplomats from the United States, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Win Tin’s funeral has seen one of the biggest public turnouts in 25 years since the passing of Khin Kyi, the mother of Aung San Suu Kyi in 1989.
Thousands of people also attended a memorial ceremony at Judson Hall, visited Win Tin’s home and the NLD’s headquarters to pay their respect to one of Myanmar’s most venerated political activists.
“U Win Tin is someone who always stood by his principles. However attacked, he would never fall down. Until his death, no one could knock him down. He is our hero and so I came today,” said Myat Htin, a mourner from Mandalay.
Many others gathered at North Okkalapa Roundabout, with traffic jams forming as mourners walked to the cemetery.
Some painted graffiti portraits of Win Tin’s face on the lampposts near the Judson Hall and Hledan Flyover. Others were seen wearing Win Tin’s trademark blue colour shirts, the prisoner uniform he continued to wear since his release from 19 years in prison in 2008.
“I have great respect for U Win Tin who has only one face. He stood for the people throughout his life. I accompanied his last journey in spite of my ill health. U Win Tin will never die in our hearts,” said Kyi Win, a mourner from Puzuntaung Township.
A total of 46 organisations sent condolence messages to the funeral and 1,000 baskets of flowers and garlands were delivered from different places.
Around 5pm, thousands of mourners accompanied Win Tin from the reception hall to his burial place. Many sang political songs in homage to the democracy struggle and the sacrifices he made for a more free and democratic Burma.