via the Myanmar Times, 20 Mar 2019: Tensions in Mrauk U as people stay indoors and tourists have cleared out.
Archaeologists want the Mrauk-U cultural heritage zone to be declared off limits to combatants after an artillery shell damaged one of its ancient pagodas during a recent clash between government forces and the Arakan Army.
The Myanmar Archaeology Association urged combatants to avoid the area as it is being prepared for listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In last Friday’s clash, an artillery shell hit the historic Mye Hte Pagoda and the security gate of a cultural conservation zone near Tukkathein Pagoda.
Myanmar is a signatory to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, which urges conflicting parties against targeting cultural heritage areas, using them as forts, or fighting in those areas.
via various news sources, 18-19 March 2019: Reports of armed conflict between the Arakan Army and the Myanmar armed forces in Rakhine. Local villagers have been displaced to flee the conflict zones, while some temples of the Mrauk-U archaeological site have been damaged from weapons fire. Myanmar is currently preparing to nominate Mrauk U as a world heritage site.
Not only residents of Mrauk-U, but also archaeologists are concerned about the effects of the ongoing hostilities in their ancient township.
Battles between Myanmar and Arakan forces damaged some of the township archeological heritage buildings and have become an obstacle to efforts to include the monuments on the UNESCO World Heritage list, residents and archaeologists said.
Hundreds of ancient but well-preserved temples and pagodas that dot the area’s hills are remnants of a powerful empire that existed there from the 15th century to the late 18th century.
“The damage inside the archaeological heritage areas caused by the ongoing fighting could be irreparable,” said Khin Than, chairwoman of the group Mrauk-U Heritage Trust.
“I am concerned that these irreplaceable archaeological treasures won’t be able to survive if there is heavy artillery firing and bombing by airstrikes,” she said. “Locals who live inside the archaeological zone also want peace and stability. Nobody wants war.”
The A-Naut-Myae-Htae pagoda was hit by fallen mortar shells during a night of shooting and shelling in Mrauk-U on March 15, said Than Htike, director of Mrauk-U’s Archaeological Department.
A security tent near the Shite-Thaung pagoda, an iconic monument among Rakhine’s archeological sites, was hit by heavy artillery, while bullets fell in the vicinity, which is designated as an archaeological zone, he said.
Here’s a list of archaeology stories from Southeast Asia that I missed out on over the last two weeks. Most prominently has been the eruption of fighting between the military forces of Cambodia and Thailand at the border near Preah Vihear:
Preah Vihear, wikicommons
Alison in Cambodia has been keeping tabs on the situation far more competently than I am. Check her posts out here, here and here.
2 die as Thai, Cambodian troops battle at border [AP, via Jakarta Post, 04 Feb 2011]
Villagers flee deadly clashes on Thai-Cambodian border [Malaysia Sun, 06 Feb 2011]
Thai, Cambodian clashes resume at disputed border [AP, via TodayOnline, 07 Feb 2011]
Temple at centre of Thai-Cambodian dispute [AFP, vis SBS, 07 Feb 2011]
Call For Preah Vihear Temple To Be Handed To UN [Bernama, 07 Feb 2011]
Ancient temple at centre of Thai-Cambodian dispute [AFP, vis MSN Philippines, 07 Feb 2011]