The National Ethnic Youth Alliance (NEYA) released a statement on July 4 to denounce the government for taking action and using violence in the crackdown against ethnic Karenni (Kayah) youths who were protesting against the plan to erect Bogyoke Aung San statue in the Karenni State’s capital Loikaw.
The NEYA denounces the government for charging ten Karenni youths with defamation and incitement under Section 505 (b) and (c) of the Penal Code on July 2 for distributing notices on Karenni history and objection against the planned Bogyoke statue, and staging a violent crackdown against the protesters who attempted to reach the restricted area while they were marching on the street on July 3.
“We denounce [the government] for building Bogyoke statues and other statues in ethnic areas without consent from the ethnic people. Also, they shouldn’t arrest our ethnic brethren who protested over this issue. We denounce this,” Sai Aung Myint Oo, spokesperson of the NEYA, told KIC News.
He continued that ethnic people have leaders they respect and the existing democratic government should not disrespect the ethnic people and engage in ‘Burmanization’ efforts, which were carried out by the previous military government.
He urged the government to show respect to equality by negotiating with the ethnic youths who have been arrested for the protest.
The NEYA urged the civilian government to respect and carry out its pledge for national reconciliation. The alliance also stated that national equality, self-determination, and democratic values must be accepted and practiced for the establishment of a federal union and claimed that the Karenni State government’s action seems to oppose the inclusion of all ethnic groups in the upcoming third session of the Union Peace Conference – 21st Century Panglong.
During a meeting held on February 1, the Karenni State government approved the plan to erect a bronze figure of Bogyoke Aung San at Gandha Hay Wun Park in Loikaw. Actions have been taken against ethnic youths who distributed notices to oppose the plan and a violent crackdown was staged against around 10,000 residents who took on the street to oppose the planned statue on July 3.
Civilian society organizations (CSOs) sent open letters to the state government on the second week of June to oppose the plan and state-based CSOs and ethnic youth organizations have respectively released statements to object to the state government for taking action and using violence against the Karenni youths.