Bronze Aung San statues have been flying off the shelves under the NLD government

A General Aung San Statue at a park. Photo: Flickr / CC Food Travel
A General Aung San Statue at a park. Photo: Flickr / CC Food Travel

Bronze casters in the Tampawady Quarter of Mandalay say orders for statues of General Aung San – Myanmar’s martyred independence hero and founder of the Tatmadaw – have spiked since the NLD took over Myanmar’s government.

NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi is the famed general’s daughter.

The rise in demand for Aung San statues began in 2015 – the centenary of the general’s birth – and has continued since his daughter’s party won a majority of parliament seats at the end of that year.

“Under this government, more bronze statues of General Aung San have been ordered from us. We have made them for about 10 cities. Shapes and sizes are different. Not only our shop but others have to cast many statues in bronze,” a Mandalay bronze casting expert named Aung Moe told Eleven.

Orders for the statues are coming from around the country, but not every community is happy about it. In February, groups in Mon State and in Myitkyina filed petitions to local the governments cancel the erection of Aung San statues. They claimed the presence of the statues in non-Bamar areas would be unacceptable at a time when the army Aung San founded continues to perpetrate violence against ethnic minority communities.

The groups also claimed that the statues were inappropriate on the grounds that Aung San’s promises of peace and federalism have not yet been realized.

Mon groups similarly protested the naming of a new bridge in Mon State after General Aung San, demanding a more locally relevant name. To some ethnic minority citizens of Myanmar, the NLD’s insistence on placing memorials to the late general around the country is an expression of Bamar supremacy.

Bronze caster Aung Moe said there has also been a request for an Aung San statue in Thaketa Township, where Buddhist nationalists recently stoked tensions by forcing the closure of Muslim schools by claiming they were illegally being used as mosques. Another one is expected to go up in Tampawady Quarter, where a large portion of these statues are made.

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