The Chin Youth Network has spoken out in defense of protesters in Loikaw, Karenni State, against whom police fired rubber bullets and water cannons, injuring at least 10 people.
Thousands of people tried to enter Kanta Heywon Park in Loikaw on February 12, where a statue of Burma’s late Gen Aung San has been placed.
Protesters said that the statue is inappropriate while the promises of equality and autonomy historically made between Aung San and ethnic peoples remain unfulfilled.
“The Kayah State government didn’t use negotiation to solve problems, but instead used excessive force to crack down on the protest against the Gen Aung San copper statue. This action is not in line with democratic norms and could damage reconciliation between ethnic groups,” the Chin Youth Network wrote in a statement. “For youth, this action puts little trust in the Union. Therefore, the Chin Youth Network strongly condemns it.”
According to Salai Mang Bwai, who is a central committee member of the Chin Youth Network, four ethnic Chin members of the network participated in Tuesday’s demonstration in Loikaw.
“We are ethnic brothers and sisters. We are on the same path, heading to federal democracy. We have to help each other in this situation. We came to support them in the spirit of camaraderie,” he told Khonumthung News.
Negotiations are now underway between state government officials and protest leaders, regarding the future of the statue, which was unveiled on February 2 despite widespread local opposition.