Veteran Myanmar pro-democracy campaigner Win Tin dies

YANGON - The co-founder of Myanmar's pro-democracy opposition and the nation's longest-serving political prisoner, Win Tin, has died at the age of 84, his party said Monday, after battling for decades to bring freedom to the formerly junta-run country.

The veteran campaigner, whose near two decades in jail failed to dull his commitment to the democratic cause, had suffered worsening ill health in recent weeks.

He died in hospital in Yangon early Monday, National League for Democracy party spokesman Nyan Win told AFP. A funeral service will be held on Wednesday.

Win Tin reiterated his support for opposition party leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the days before he died, according to his long-time assistant Yar Zar.

"We are so sad to have lost him - it is like the world has been lost," he told AFP.

"But we have many things to do. We will continue as he asked and will follow his way to democracy," he added.

Myanmar began its emergence from nearly half a century of military rule in 2011, under a quasi-civilian government that has won international plaudits for reforms including the release of hundreds of political prisoners.

Win Tin, who formed the NLD with Suu Kyi in 1988, was imprisoned the following year in the wake of a student-led pro-democracy uprising.

He was freed by the former military junta in September 2008 from Yangon's notorious Insein prison as part of an amnesty.