A hearbreaking event, ancient Dhammayangyi temple of Bagan was collapsing during the earthquake on 24th August, 2016. (Photo : EPA/Ministry of Information)

 

A powerful magnitude 6.8 earthquake shook central Myanmar on 24.8.2016, damaging scores of ancient Buddhist pagodas in the former capital of Bagan, a major tourist attraction. Bagan is home to more than 2,000 ancient Buddhist structures, including temples and pagodas dating back to 10th through the 14th centuries.

Myanmar’s President U Htin Kyaw flew to the ancient capital of Bagan on 25.8.2016 to evaluate damage of cultural heritage caused by the powerful earthquake. Historical monuments and cultural heritage of Myanmar have been being ruined by natural disasters as well as policy of Myanmar Generals. UNESCO has been trying to save cultural heritage of Myanmar since 1990s. Restrictions of military junta did not let it to do its job properly.

Myanmar generals had destroyed many historical and cultural heritages of Myanmar mainly monuments of non-Buddhists since 1990. General Khin Nyunt destroyed Rohingya’s historical Mosques and many monuments. He ordered to destroy Sandhi Khan Mosque of Mrauk U, Arakan, built-in 1433. Myanmar general transformed historical Mosque of Sittwe called Badar Mukam built-in 1727 AD, into a pagoda.

The Taliban destroyed one of the World’s wonders, the monumental Buddha Statues of Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan. So-called Islamic State destroyed Iraq’s ancient temple of Nabu. Though Jihahist pleads guilty to destroying ancient Timbuktu artifacts of Mali, Myanmar generals have planned to destroy all non-Buddhist monuments.

They have been not only destroying cultural heritages of Rohingya, but also committing Genocide denying their existence in Myanmar. More than one million Rohingya are being kept in the ghettos, depriving every basic human rights.

As the International Criminal Court has classified destroying cultural artifacts as a war crime and jihadist Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi of Mali is being charged for the destruction of Timbuktu monuments, Myanmar Generals must be brought to ICC for trial and save cultural heritage of Myanmar.

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About The Author

Aung Aung is a Rakhine-based Activist blogging from inside Myanmar.

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