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.
- Myanmar military fights Arakan Army among ancient Rakhine temples | Frontier Myanmar, 19 Mar 2019
- Myanmar soldiers hunt Rakhine insurgents; 6 wounded | Bangkok Post, 19 Mar 2019
- Shelling in Northern Rakhine Injures Woman, Scars Historic Pagoda | The Irrawaddy, 18 Mar 2019
- Statement by the Myanmar Archaeology Association, 18 Feb 2019