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September 19, 2019

Old City of MraukU aims for World Heritage status

  • By Zeya (Culture)
Famous pagodas and stupas in the old city of MraukU are symbols of history and culture.  Photo: Nyi Zaw Moe
  • Old city of MraukU set a distinct example for culture and a long history of Rakhine State. King Saw Mon established the royal City of MraukU with a time span of 354 years from 1430 to 1787 with 49 successive monarchs. In the history of Rakhine State, there are the Danyawaddy, Waithali, Lemro and MraukU eras; the MraukU era is the most advanced and progressed period.
    After the end of the MraukU Era, the old palace site, city walls, walls, forts, pagodas, stupas, relic repositories , monasteries, granaries and the systematic water supply are set to show a highly civilized society in the past. In addition, the Buddha Statues, stone inscriptions, coins, potteries of the ancient times and the intangible culture heritage of ethnic Rakhine people have shown the high cultural customs. MraukU is an old city worth of a status to put in the World Heritage List.

The Recognition of the City in the Cultural List
The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture has tried to put Myanmar Cultural heritage in the World Heritage list, putting Pyu old cities of Hanlin, Beikthano and Sri Ksetra in the World heritage list on 22 June, 2014 and an old city of Bagan in UNESCO World Heritage list on 6 July, 2019. The Ministry continued to try to put an old city of MraukU by submitting the Nomination Dossier (Draft) to UNESCO before 30 September, 2019; the complete Dossier must be submitted before January, 2020.
Domestic and foreign experts must make a field trip to cultural areas in MraukU to collect statistics and records again, in order to amend and add to the requirements of the Nomination Dossier (Draft). After the completed dossier is submitted, experts from the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) will inspect the sites in MraukU in September, 2020. If their findings meet the prescribed criteria, the dossier will be submitted to the 45th Council on World Cultural Heritage, which will meet to decide if the areas should be put on the World Heritage list.
The Ministry of Religion and Culture had overcome a lot of obstacles while trying to put ancient Bagan city in a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But the active participation of the State government and the whole local populace, precautionary measures have been carried out without any difficulties to put old city of MraukU in the World Heritage lists.
Cooperation efforts to put old city of MraukU in the World Heritage List
MraukU National Cooperation Committee was formed on 17 May, 2017; the Committee was presided over by the Union Minister for Religious Affairs and Culture as Chairman and with Rakhine Prime Minister as deputy Chairman. In order to put old city of MraukU in the World Heritage List, measures are carried out under the cooperation of experts of MraukU region for the World Heritage and working committee of the World Heritage List.
As many as twenty times of the meetings between already formed committees, subcommittees and UNESCO and domestic and foreign experts and local lovers of ancient heritage have been conducted. Among the criteria of the World Culture Heritage, the one put in the heritage list must be consistent with one or two criterion mentioned in the following:
1. Exquisite handiwork by means of historic facts, criteria, and being unrivalled during human history created by human beings;
2. Exhibiting an important interchange of human values, or a time span or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture, or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;

3. Bearing a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;
4. Being an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates significant stages human history;
5. Being an outstanding example of traditional human settlements or interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
6. Being directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas or beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal value.
MraukU Culture heritage is consistent with criteria Nos. 3 and 4 and therefore it should be submitted to the World Heritage Committee by mentioning the numbers. While making preparations to put MraukU in the World Heritage List, unfortunately there were unscrupulous practices of opposition and disputes such as AA movements, leading to the suspension of local and foreign tours to the MraukU Region.
The World Heritage Committee will ask again for the requirements of the Nomination Dossier(Draft) for the submission of the Complete Nomination Dossier to the World Heritage Committee before 30 January, 2020. Despite difficulties of security and regional stability, MraukU National Cooperation Committee, the Ministry and department concerned, domestic and foreign experts, the State government and efforts of the local people will submit the Complete Nomination Dossier to the World Heritage Committee within the prescribed time.
After submitting the complete Nomination Dossier to the World Heritage Committee, experts from Landmark and Site committee will make a field trip to MraukU area in September, 2020 and accurate findings will be submitted to 45th World Heritage Committee in order to put the MraukU area in the World Heritage List. All efforts will bring only the MraukU area to be in the World Heritage List.
Despite efforts to put MraukU region in the World Heritage List, lack of regional stability due to continuing wars in the area will not recognize the status of the World Heritage. The fundamental requirement is the regional stability. Therefore, in order to put the MraukU area in the World Heritage List, it is necessary to re-establish the stable environment in our societies. Those responsible people and groups engaged in disputes should consider for the sake of Rakhine State economy and the benefits of the Union to re-establish the MraukU district or area as a peaceful and stable region.
Therefore, in order to include the MraukU region in the World Heritage List, one of the national objectives should be stated to carry out the most urgent tasks with close cooperation and mass appeals.

Translated by Arakan Sein

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