PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Division — A mentally ill man destroyed a fiberglass statue of Gen Aung San in Hinthada District, Irrawaddy Division on Tuesday.
Ko Soe Min Min, 36, who has been receiving treatment for an unidentified mental illness for four years, broke the statue into three pieces in Tar Gwa village, Myanaung Township, at around 2 p.m.
“He used an iron hammer and sickle to break it apart,” Ko Wai Min Tun, a resident of Tar Gwa, told The Irrawaddy. “A villager tried to stop him but he started waving the sickle, then no one dared to approach him.”
Ko Wai Min Tun added that Ko Soe Min Min climbed onto the statue and broke it before falling off. Then, he said, people restrained the man until he was arrested.
Tar Gwa residents paid 2.5 million kyats (US$1,800) for the statue, which was unveiled last June in a ceremony attended by Irrawaddy Division Chief Minister Mann Johnny.
The mentally ill patient is in police custody at Myanaung Hospital where he is receiving treatment for a broken arm, sustained from falling off the statue.
He had been receiving medication and check-ups every three months at Ywathagyi Mental Hospital since 2013 but stopped taking medication in January, according to police officer Aung Kyaw Oo at Myanaung Police Station.
“His parents take turns keeping an eye on him,” said the police officer. “That morning, he secretly left under his mother’s watch and wandered away with a sickle and hammer, which is used to crush peas.”
Ko Soe Min Min’s medical records will be examined and authorities will decide whether or not to charge him, said Aung Kyaw Oo.
In an unrelated incident in July 2015, a local of the division’s Kyangin Township damaged a bronze statue of Gen Aung San. He was charged with damaging public property and sentenced to seven years in prison.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.