Karenni Youth Oppose Gen Aung San Statue

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Questions are raised over who supported and allowed for the construction of the controversial statue.

By KANTARAWADDY TIMES

Karenni youth are facing criminal charges after protesting the placement of a statue of Gen Aung San in the Karenni State capital of Loikaw.

The copper statue of the Burmese independence icon was placed in Kantaheywon Park on Januplacedary 31. Youth and activists held a demonstration in the park the following day, saying that the statue symbolized a move to Burmanize the ethnically diverse area.

The state government forcibly constructed the Gen Aung San statue without listening to the people’s voices. That’s why we feel so upset. Today is a sad day, Khu Ree Du, who participated in the protest, told Kantarawaddy Times.

Police officers detained and charged 26 protestersalmost half of those presentwith violating the Peaceful Assembly Act.

The youth set up a camp in front of the park and continued their demonstration, only to be cracked down on by police later.

They cannot destroy our standpoints in our hearts, or our history, protester Ko Deede said.

The statue was opened to the public on February 2.

State finance minister U Maw Maw told youth in a meeting that the state government was not behind the statue, but rather it was a group of supporters who formed their own committee and managed the construction.

Spokesperson for the ruling National League for Democracy party Dr. Myo Nyunt told Kantarawaddy Times that the statue was privately funded.

“Organizers had to request that the municipal department allocate an available place to put the statue. We didn’t give orders to build this statue, he said.

One of the statue committees organizers, Khun Ko Yee, told Kantarawaddy Times that they had faced many difficulties in building and erecting the statue of the late General, but that it was now a point of pride.

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