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Gen. Aung San statue destroyed by mentally unstable man

The remains of the Aung San statue in Tegongyi, Irrawaddy Division, on 21 March 2017. (PHOTO: DVB)

A statue of Burma’s independence hero Gen. Aung San was completely destroyed by a man with mental illness in the Irrawaddy delta on Tuesday.

According to Su Su Aung, Myanaung Township’s MP in the Irrawaddy regional parliament, the fiberglass statue in the village of Tegongyi was vandalised beyond repair by a 36-year-old local resident [name withheld], who apparently had a mental illness. He was apprehended by other villagers at the scene and handed over to police.

She said the man is currently in hospital, being treated for a broken arm, and under police guard while facing trial for vandalism.

“We have to let the court decide, after we charge him, whether he really is mentally unstable or not,” said Su Su Aung.

“I think he fell from the concrete platform [where the statue stands] – he suffered a broken arm and is now in hospital, chained to his hospital bed,” she added.

The statue of Aung San, who is the late father of Burma’s current de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, was unveiled by regional chief minister Mahn Johnny in June last year.

A bizarrely similar incident took place in the neighbouring town of Kyangin in 2014 when a statue of Aung San was vandalised overnight after it was unveiled the day before.

Born in Magwe Division in 1915, Aung San grew up a nationalist and a revolutionary, opposed to British rule in Burma. He was also the founder of the Communist Party of Burma and the Tatmadaw, Burma’s armed forces.

During World War II, with Japanese backing, Aung San returned to Burma with a band of rebels, now known as the 30 Comrades, to repel the British forces.

After the war, he was instrumental in negotiating Burmese independence from the colonialist rulers, but was assassinated in 1947 before that dream could be fully realised.

His family, including Suu Kyi, grew up in exile.

Among his legacies is the Panglong Agreement, signed in 1947, when he guaranteed ethnic leaders autonomy if they sided with him.

The latest round of peace talks with ethnic leaders, due to recommence in May, has been dubbed the “21st Century Panglong Conference” and is being chaired by Aung San’s daughter, Suu Kyi.

Last month, four political parties in Kachin State put their names to a petition to prevent a statue of Aung San being erected in state capital Myitkyina.