Police fired rubber bullets into a crowd of several thousand demonstrators in eastern Myanmar yesterday, activists said, as protests mount over a new and controversial statue.

The bronze structure depicts the father of de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi -- Aung San -- on horseback and was unveiled early this month in the capital of Kayah state despite strong opposition.

Aung San is widely revered by the majority ethnic Bamar (Burmese) population as an independence hero for his role in the struggle against British colonial rule.

But the general, who was assassinated before independence in 1948, is viewed less favourably among many ethnic minority groups, who see him as a symbol of Bamar domination.

Yesterday, several thousand people marched to the Kayah state parliament only to be blocked by police in riot gear, who were lined up behind rolls of barbed wire.

One protest leader, Myo Hlaing Win, told AFP by phone that 10 people had been injured after police fired rubber bullets into the crowd.

"They attacked unarmed people," he said. "This should not happen under a democratic government."

Images showed medics cleaning up blood streaming from wounds of dazed-looking protesters, many dressed in local traditional red woven garments.

Statues of Aung San have been defaced in border states and the Suu Kyi-led government's plan to rename a bridge after him triggered mass protests in eastern Mon state in 2017.



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