Oct 7, 2008 (DVB), Former political prisoner U Win Tin returned to work with the National League for Democracy yesterday, less than two weeks after his release from prison.
U Win Tin had been held for more than 19 years when he was released on 23 September.
In an interview with DVB the day before his return to work, U Win Tin said he was happy to do whatever duties the party demanded of him and called for engagement and discussion between all organisations and parties.
"Although there have been some differences due to political changes, I have stood up for the NLD all along. I have always believed that an organisation like the NLD should never veer or collapse, which is why I said all along that people help the NLD.
"When I came out [of prison], I didn’t know where I would stand with the NLD; I didn’t know whether I had been expelled from party membership or suspended from my duty. But I said openly I would fulfill my duty wherever I am. After that the Central Executive Committee made me some offers. I accepted them, as I have been outside for two weeks. I will learn what I have to learn and ask what I have to ask."
DVB: What position are you taking up in the NLD?
"Some newspapers have said that U Win Tin was given back his original position, as originally I was a member of the secretariat. I don’t want to do that. This is a very important period, where we need to be very united. I don’t accept the need for two secretaries, I am only going to be in the CEC. I am not going to take up the secretary duty. Let U Lwin do it. Let U Aung Shwe be the chair. I will carry out my duties below them as best I can.
"As for what I will do in the future, that depends on the duties given to me by the party. More than what I want to do in the party, I want to carry out the duty given by the party. I have my own imaginations, my own desires, plans I want to carry out. I will express them gradually for acceptance or refusal. At this time, it is very important to be united. It is also time for the leaders to be united also. At this juncture, I don’t want to put forward my desire and what I want to do. I will do in consultation."
DVB: Could tell us what your aims are?
"People are very afraid now. People are being oppressed, barred, hampered, persecuted in every way. People are living in fear, alarm, dejection and hopelessness, lacking in vitality and sharpness, both in the party and within the general population. If we can, we have to try hard for a while to reconnect with the people.
"Inside the party I want people to discuss among themselves, and between parties and organisations. To be patient with each other, to share their views, to change each other’s attitudes, to link hands and interconnect. I will strive for this, not only within my party, but also with ethnic nationalities and other political parties. To give an extreme example, I even want to connect with parties like the National Union Party. We might have the same political views, if we have democratic rules and few boundaries, they will be able to move and we will also be able to move. So I will build links.
"Another thing is the matter of political prisoners. Although we have always aimed for the release of political prisoners, I want to raise the profile of this a little bit. For example, I will go to Min Ko Naing’s house and the houses of those who died in prison. In the relationships inside and with the international community, they are being held hostage. The release of these people is very important. I want to raise its priority a bit more as a campaign.
"Thirdly, I want to concentrate on dialogue. We have been trying for over 20 years. To this day, we have still not reached the stage of genuine dialogue. We should accelerate the movement for dialogue."
DVB: What message do you want to send to the NLD and the public when you return to work?
Win Tin: "I don't have much to say. To the party members, I would say the reason I am here is because I have a job to do. I am just carrying out the party’s duty. I don’t want to change or walk over the people who have been carrying out party duties [since my arrest]. I am here because I want to make our people work together. I don’t really want to talk about our policies or path because they are already there. I am in position to just carry on. The current NLD position is so good that all I need to do is to continue to carry out the NLD policies.
"What I do have little bit extra of is the desire for unity. The other policies are the same. What I want to say is, I am coming to work for unity and to shape this unity. Fly the spirit of unity high. Fly the victorious flag of unity."
Reporting by Yee May Aung