Moves to gain heritage recognition

RAKHINE STATE, 22 June 2017: Myanmar’s Mrauk U’s Department of Archaeology and the National Museum says surveys are being carried out to start the process that could ultimately lead to a UNESCO World Heritage site listing in 2019.

Global New Light of Myanmar reported teams are producing a map that will identify cultural heritage and are installing signs indicating heritage locations and drawing up a long-term management plan that could ultimately lead to filing an application with UNESCO.

The department director, U Nyein Lwin, was quoted saying work has started, but much needed to be done. A team of international experts are helping to survey the site and prepare a bid.

A draft nomination to include Mrauk U region on the World Heritage list will be submitted at the earliest in September, 2018, and a final submission would have to be made by 31 January, 2019, to be considered by the UNESCO annual meeting later in that year.

Mrauk U region cultural heritage conservation group chairman and the project’s researcher, Daw Khin Than, said mapping had confirmed a 90% similarity between historical evidence with the real-time on-ground situation.

But like so many potential World Heritage sites it will come at a price for local residents. Presently there are about 10,000 squatters living in Mrauk U region, and officials said “this matter will be handled according to the master plan,” without giving any details.

Mrauk U is an archaeologically important town in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar. It is also the capital of Mrauk U Township, a sub region of the Mrauk U district.

From 1430 until 1785, it was the capital of the Mrauk U Kingdom, the most important and powerful Rakhine (Arakanese) kingdom.

Today, Mrauk U is a major archaeological and is emerging as a tourist destination. The main attractions are temples and ruins around the town. The remains of the main palace roughly form the centre of the town.

In June 2014, UNESCO accepted the first inscription of a Myanmar heritage site; the Pyu Ancient Cities (includes the remains of three brick, walled and moated cities of Halin, Beikthano and Sri Ksetra located in vast irrigated landscapes in the dry zone of the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River basin), to be included on the World Heritage List.

Other important sites in the country are still in the process of surveys or filing documents for a formal request for consideration by UNESCO.