Monday, 18 November 2019

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Saving Burma’s past

A concerted push to protect and upgrade Burma’s cultural heritage sites as part of an effort to increase tourism is underway, officials said.

A training program and conservation effort – financed and supported with Italy’s assistance under the supervision of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – has brought preservation and cultural heritage experts together. The Italian government has provided 400,000 euro for the project.
A preservation training program covers three sectors: creating a management plan for safeguarding cultural heritage in ancient Pyu and Bagan cities; cultural heritage data management; and policy and technological assistance to nominate world heritage sites. Officials said it would take a year for the Archeological, National Museum and Library Department of the Myanmar Ministry of Culture to complete the tasks.

A related drive includes the protection of heritage sites in Rangoon, which are in danger of being torn down or renovated. There are 189 listed buildings and 11 ancients monuments in Rangoon.

Burmese officials said world heritage nomination sites would include three ancient Pyu city-state areas – Beikthano, Hanlin and Sri Kestra. The sites include archeological findings of Pondaung and Ponnya primates showing the country's evolution through the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.

With the participation of UNESCO, foreign experts will take part in the preservation of Srelitra Pyu city and Bagan, the massive complex of Buddhist temples and religious edifices in central Burma.

Recently, the first-ever Yangon Heritage Trust (YHT) Conference 2012 was launched recently to create a strategy for protecting cultural sites in the former capital of Rangoon. The conference dealt with issues associated with urban conservation, setting a framework on regulations for conservation and planning and historic urban landscape as a driver of development.

Officials said Rangoon’s unique architectural heritage and unique collection of 19th and early 20th century buildings is suffering from long neglect and the ravages of commercial development. Beautiful century-old residential and commercial buildings in downtown Rangoon have been gradually disappearing, together with colonial-era houses around the city.
The Kachin’s last stand
Since October this year, Burma has been in a state of civil war, with fighting between Burmese military and armed ethnic rebels. The ruling junta started a crackdown on these armed groups.

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