Aung San Statue Dispute Yet Unsolved

No agreement has been reached but both sides have pledged commitment to finding a peaceful solution.

By Network Media Group
March 21, 2019

Although the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC) and Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) helped negotiate, the dipute on Statue of Aung San at Loikaw, Kayah (Karenni) State stayed unsolved.

Although the resolution hasn’t been reached at meeting on March 20 about a statue of Gen Aung San that locals want to be removed and the Myanmar government wants to stay both sides have agreed to try to keep things peaceful while they try to work out a solution.

Khun Thomas of Karenni Youth Force (KYF), said they will meet in April to discuss what to do about the statue of Aung San located in a park in Loikaw, capital of Karenni State, which the group adamantly opposes.

“We made a two-point agreement. First, we will continue to seek a peaceful solution. Secondly, the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC), state government, KNPP (Karenni National Progressive Party) and KYF will meet again before the end of April for negotiations and discussions about the statue,” he said.

Last month, police fired rubber bullets on demonstrators protesting against the Aung San statue in Kantaheywon park. Over twenty youth sustained injuries during the attack.

Aung San, the father of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, has been credited as being the architect of the country’s democratic movement before Burma received independence from Britain. But he’s mainly a hero among the majority Burman (Burmese) and less so for the country’s other numerous ethnicities.

The KYF want the statue removed from the state or relocated to a government or committee building.

“The State government hasn’t accepted (our demands). They want this statue in the park. (Meanwhile), representatives from NRPC are discussing this issue. They are trying to make sure meetings go smoothly, so the problem doesn’t get worse,” Khun Thomas told NMG.

In the most recent meeting, the Karenni State government proposed the statue remain in the park but to add a sign made out of stone with passages from the Panglong Agreement. Additionally, a statue of a Karenni leader would be placed next to the Aung San statue.

Khun Thomas said U Zaw Htay, from NRPC, will report details of the meeting to the Union government. “I expect a final decision (about the fate of the Aung San statue) will happen in the next meeting that is planned before the end of April.”

The government isn’t listening to the Karenni people opposed to this statue of Aung San that has been forcibly erected in their park, Khun Thomas said. If it isn’t removed then the youths will get rid of it, he said.

“It’s like they are ignoring our Karenni history and the voice of the people in Karenni state,” said Nel Neh Plo, a spokesperson for KNPP. “It’s not good for both our state and our nation. Especially in this peacebuilding period when we are trying to build mutual trust. They need to listen to the voice of people and come up with a positive approach for negotiating with the youth to solve this problem.”