The government of Chin State has decided to place statues of Burmese independence hero General Aung San and three Chin leaders who signed the Panglong Agreement in a new municipal park near the state capital Hakha.
The park, which is expected to take at least a year to complete, will be located on a 3.8-acre plot of land at the entrance to Hakha, according to the state’s minister for municipal affairs.
“We had a plan last year to build statues of the three Chin leaders who signed the Panglong Agreement, together with a stone pillar with information about them in Chin, Burmese and English, but we didn’t have the budget for it. So now we are going to build a park where we will place the statues of Gen. Aung San and the three Chin leaders, as well as an independence monument,” Municipal Affairs Minister Soe Htet told Khonumthung News.
There has been strong opposition in Chin State to the statue of Aung San, which many regard as a symbol of Burmese nationalism, despite his role in reaching an agreement with ethnic leaders to form the Union of Burma.
“All ethnic people in this country want to see General Aung San’s promises fulfilled. Let local people build Aung San statues after the Panglong promises are fully implemented,” said Pu Noe Thang Kap, the joint chairman of the Chin National League for Democracy.
“Ethnic people still don’t have equal political rights or self-determination. That’s why many are opposed to [the statue]. It should not be built by force. The country is now operating under a democratic system, so they need to consider the voice of local people,” he added.
The Hakha-based Chin CSO Network, which held two meetings on the statue before deciding to oppose it, also took issue with the timing of efforts to erect monuments to Aung San.
“It’s not the right time to build it. We still haven’t got a federal system. Ethnic people want federalism more than they want a statue. After we have a federal system, local people will build it, if they feel it’s needed,” Salai Thawng Cun Nung, the coordinator of the Chin CSO Network, told Khonumthung news.
Since assuming power, the ruling National League for Democracy has pushed ethnic states to place statues of Aung San in their capitals and other municipal areas, provoking a strong backlash from local people.
In Thantlang, the Chin state government was forced to withdraw plans to erect a statue honoring Aung San after it faced opposition from local residents.
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