Thousands took to the streets in Mawlamyine, Mon State, on Sunday in protest at a proposal to rename a bridge in honour of General Aung San.
The proposal had been backed by the Lower House of parliament.
Members of the Mon, Kayin and Pa-O ethnic groups held aloft banners and protest signs as they demonsrated in the city.
“Our key objectives are to highlight the need for Myanmar to be become a true federal union, for ethnic minorities to be allowed their rights and for priority to be given to those that are relevant in deciding on local matters such as this,” said Naing Mon Yarzar, a member of committee formed to oppose the renaming of the bridge.
A proposal urging the Parliament to change the name to General Aung San Bridge was submitted on March 14 by MP Mi Kun Chan from Paung constituency in Mon State. Parliament approved the proposal.
MP Lamar Naw Aung, from the Injanyan constituency, said residents were unhappy with the proposal. The public should have been consulted as Myanmar has numerous different ethnic groups whose opinions should be considered, the MP said.
The United Nationalities group also released a statement on March 18 condemning the renaming move.
It said that if the bridge were renamed, it would harm the casuse of unity and national reconciliation and demonstrate that most MPs ignored the opinions of ethnic minorities.
The independence leader is regarded as a more divisive figure in Mon State in contrast to the more respectful attitudes shown towards his memory in Nay Pyi Taw. Many members of ethnic minority groups say their regions did not benefit from his policies.