The bridge would be named after Bogyoke Aung San, who is seen as an independence hero in Myanmar by some – and a divisive figure by others
On Sunday, thousands of people gathered in Myanmar’s Mon State to protest the government’s plan to rename a bridge after the father of state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
The Thanlwin Bridge, which spans the Salween River and is Myanmar’s longest bridge, would become the Bogyoke Aung San Bridge following a proposition by lawmakers within Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party. It would be named after Bogyoke (major-general) Aung San, who is viewed as an instrumental figure in post-colonial Myanmar and who was assassinated before the Southeast Asian nation won its independence from Britain.
It is the latest incident in a series of clashes between the central government and the country’s ethnic minority groups. The groups argue that they are often sidelined by the Bamar, the majority ethnic group that Suu Kyi and most of the government are part of.
Bogyoke Aung San is seen as a national hero within Myanmar, particularly among the Bamar. However, some argue that he is a more divisive figure in Mon State and other peripheral states, as some are of the opinion that his policies did not benefit the country’s ethnic groups.
Many protestors at Sunday’s gathering, according to AFP, said the government was disregarding the local community’s prevailing desire to keep the bridge’s old name.
“The NLD is powerful in Parliament and nowadays they can pass whatever proposal they like,” demonstrator Lin Htet, 34, said. “But for us and for all ethnic people, we value many things in our culture and they should listen to what the local ethnics want.”