BANGKOK (AP) — Aye Aye Win, The Associated Press chief of bureau in Myanmar who told her country's story to the world despite threats, surveillance and official warnings, retired Saturday after 25 years with the news agency.
Win carried on the legacy begun by her father, U Sein Win, AP's Myanmar correspondent from 1968-1989, who was jailed three times while fighting for press freedom. Together, their reporting spanned the decades when Myanmar was ruled by the military and its recent transition to civilian authority — changes that brought an end to its isolation but also saw the army retain great power.
For her perseverance, she won the International Women's Media Foundation's Courage in Journalism Award in 2008. The IWMF described her as the "axe-handle of the foreign press" for her efforts in opening the door for more foreign coverage of Myanmar.
"I believe that journalists have to take risks if they are to challenge those who want to silence us from telling the truth," Win said in her acceptance speech. "I have pledged to work as a journalist in my own country, Myanmar, to serve the people and country with a firm belief that a free and independent press is vital to a free society."
Win began her career as her father's unpaid apprentice — witnessing firsthand the dedication and fearlessness it takes to report from a country where press freedom is not guaranteed.
"Counting my father's 20 years with the AP and adding my 25 years, I realized that I have spent more than half my life with AP," the 61-year-old Win said. "I have devoted the best years of my life with the agency where I knew and worked with wonderful people and became part of my life."
While Win plans to move onto more personal projects, Vice President of International News John Daniszewski said she will have a lasting impact on international reporting.
"During a 25-year career, Aye Aye Win has been the very embodiment of journalistic courage, keeping the flame of honest reporting alive during the worst period of military dictatorship in Myanmar," Daniszewski said.
"In very trying circumstances, she was calm, considerate, professional and respectful, but unerring and unflappable in her pursuit of the truth. Like her father before her, she has been a credit to the cause of international journalism."
Among other awards, Win received the 2013 Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism from the Missouri School of Journalism, for her "life-long dedication to honest and courageous journalism."
She also received an AP Gramling Award for excellence in 2004, and The Associated Press Managing Editors' prize for the coverage of Cyclone Nargis in 2008 with other AP staffers.