Local ethnic Chin in the Chin State capital of Hakha have condemned the state government’s plan to build a statue of General Aung San.
Aike Htun Min, spokesperson for Chin Youth Network told The Irrawaddy Thursday that his network was against the plan. “This network is protesting the building of a statue of General Aung San because if we look at the peace process, it has halted. There is even fighting in other ethnic areas,” he said.
“If the state government really needs to build a General Aung San statue in the town, we want them to also build statues of our ethnic leaders who signed the Panglong Agreement with General Aung San. Ethnic Chin have heroes too. We want the state government to build statues of our heroes too. We will not accept it if they build a statue of only General Aung San,” he said.
Other ethnic groups have also opposed plans to build Gen. Aung San statues in their regions.
“Divides have grown between Burman and other ethnic groups over the building of General Aung San statues,” said Aike Htun Min.
Hakha used to have a statue of Gen. Aung San but it was removed when the state government built its parliament building, according to Chin State Minister of Municipal Affairs U Soe Htet.
“[The plan] was to rebuild the old statue; it was not to build a new one,” he said.
Aike Htun Min says now is not the time to rebuild it.
“They could do it once our country has reached a nationwide peace agreement,” he said.
U Soe Htet said that the state government will negotiate with local Chin people to build the statue in the future. He said the government doesn’t have detailed plans yet for where and how to build the statue.
“It will take at least another year to implement the project. We don’t have a space to build it yet. We need a garden with a space for the statue,” he said.
Chin Youth Network issued a statement on Sept. 15 expressing concern about the consequences if the state government builds the statue despite opposition from local residents.
“Peace, unity, national reconciliation and trust could be further damaged if the state government ignores the wishes of the local people,” said the statement. According to the network, the government risks fostering hate between Chin and Burmese people if they build the statue.
“Our Chin will view the NLD, a majority of whom are ethnic Burmese, as trying to dominate us as a minority ethnic group if they continue to push for building the statue,” said the statement.
Hakha isn’t the first place in Chin State to have problems with a Gen. Aung San statue. The township authority in Thantlang withdrew controversial plans to build a statue early of this year after local ethnic Chin objected to the project.
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