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Myanmar Police Fire Rubber Bullets on Ethnic Minority Demonstrators

Police block protesters as they gather near a statue of General Aung San during a demonstration in Loikaw, Myanmar, Feb. 12, 2019.

Police in eastern Myanmar fired rubber bullets into a crowd of several thousand people protesting a statue of the father of leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The statue depicting General Aung San on horseback was unveiled earlier this month in the city of Loikaw, the capital of Kayah state, over the objections of members of the Karenni ethnic minority. Dozens of Karenni protesters have been arrested since plans to install the statue were first announced last year.

General Aung San is revered as a hero in Myanmar’s fight against British colonial rule when the country was known as Burma. He was the architect of a 1947 peace accord among Burmese ethnic groups, but was assassinated that same year, months before the country formally gained independence.

Since taking power in 2016 from the decades-long military junta, General Aung San's daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi, has attempted to secure peace agreements with the various ethnic armed groups who have been fighting the military for decades, but the talks have yielded few results.