Ancient City of Danyawaddy Should Also be on World Heritage List

The current Thein Sein government is working to include Burma’s ancient cities in the World Heritage List of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). To protect and preserve Burmese cultural heritages up to international standards, the government is now cooperating with UNESCO to get the cities added to the list. They submitted three ancient cities, Beikthano, Hanlin, and Tharay-Khit-taya (Sri Ksetra) to UNESCO. Union Minister for Information and Cultural Affairs Kyaw San mentioned those cities in his address in Pyithu Hluttaw held on September 20. “To add the ancient cities into the World Heritage List and to protect and preserve them according to the international standards, cooperation with UNESCO is underway. Beikthano, Hanlin, Tharay-Khit-taya were proposed to be put on the list. They are at the last step of being in the World Heritage List. When UNESCO is done with their standard procedures, the three cities – Beikthano, Hanlin, and Tharay-Khit-taya- will be in the list.”

There are many ancient cities in Burma that are part of world history. Among them, not just Beikthano, Hanlin, and Tharay-Khit-taya are the most ancient but also Danyawaddy located in Kyauktaw Township near Mahamuni Pagoda. Danyawaddy can be dated back from 6 BC up to 4 AD. Therefore, Danyawaddy is the most ancient city in Burma. When they excavated the old palace site 3 years ago, the palace wall of Danyawaddy, brick foundations, city entrances, and broken pot pieces used at that time were uncovered. The shape of the city is not square but round, unlike most of the ancient sites. It has been proved that Danyawaddy did exist in Arakan. There are three Danyawaddy periods and the excavated city that was built in the third Danyawaddy period lasted from 6 BC until 4 AD. Beikthano, Hanlin, and Tharay-Khit-taya cities were founded between 1 AD and 9 AD. Therefore, Danyawaddy is much older than Beikthano, Hanlin and Tharay-Khit-taya.

However, the Burmese government did not submit Danyawaddy to UNESCO to be included in the World Heritage List. Instead, only Beikthano, Hanlin, and Tharay-Khit-taya were proposed. Excluding Danyawaddy, because it is the ethnic Arakanese site, is an utter discrimination against the ethnic minorities. It shows that the government does not value the heritage of other ethnic groups that are not Burman. The Union of Burma is not a country where only Burman people live. Shan, Chin, Karen, Arakanese and other ethnic people also live in the country. Therefore, the heritage of other ethnic groups are as equally important as those of the Burmans. Like Burman heritage, they all have to be preserved as well. It is imperative to protect and preserve all the heritages of Burma without narrow-mindedly discriminating against one another.

Therefore, like Beikthano, Hanlin, and Tharay-Khit-taya, the ancient city of Danyawaddy should be submitted as quickly as possible, to UNESCO to include in the World Heritage List.

Why Daw Suu is Proposed to be in Forever Peace Commission

An Interview with Dr. Aye Maung

In Amyotha Hluttaw, the House of Nationalities, session held on 30 August, 2011, in Naypyidaw, a proposal to form a “Permanent Peace Committee” was put forward by a USDP representative from Kachin State in order to build perpetual peace and stability. However, Dr. Aye Maung, a representative from the First Congressional District of Arakan, pointed out that a permanent peace committee is not enough to create peace in Burma. He suggested that a commission like a “Forever Peace Commission”, with the most respected and trusted persons, such as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, is needed. When asked why Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is needed to be in the commission, Dr. Aye Maung, who is also a chairman of the RNDP, answered as follows.

Dr. Aye Maung: If we want peace forever, the commission has to be all-inclusive. That was the main desire. By all-inclusive, I mean that trusted people from home and abroad, and from armed groups are involved. I would like to see Daw Suu, veteran politicians like U Chan Tun, some writers, some from the legislature, and the country’s trusted ethnic leaders in the commission. If an all-inclusive commission is formed in the Hluttaw, I think that people from home and abroad, and both participants of the armed conflicts would believe in it. The commission should be free and should be able to lead effectively. Actually, if we give the commission the rights to discuss and function, I believe we can end the civil war in a short period of time. That’s why I wholeheartedly propose it.

Narinjara: Upon the proposal of the permanent peace committee, you said it was not enough and came up with the new term, forever peace commission. Why did you propose forming a forever peace commission?

Dr. Aye Maung: We need a permanent committee only when the problem always exists. Our problems have already lasted for 60 years and will not last forever. However, those problems have been happening until today and we must form a commission. It is our objective to solve the problems that have always been happening. And our main objective is the constitution. Every current commission or group formed in Pyithu Hluttaw, [the House of Representatives], or Amyotha Hluttaw, needs to abide by each rule of Pyithu Hluttaw. On the first day of the first Amyotha Hluttaw second regular session, “Ethnic Affairs and Home Peace Committee”, was created with nine members. Such a committee was also created in Pyithu Hluttaw. It was created in Pyithu Hluttaw according to Section 115 C of the constitution and in Amyotha Hluttaw according to Section 147 C. They all are temporary committees. They will exist only for a certain period of time. They have the rights to act. During the period, reports have to be submitted to the committee. There is Section 115 A to form a permanent committee, which is Section 147 A in Pyithu Hluttaw. The constitution allows creating four permanent committees – Law and Regulation Committee, Public Accounting Committee, Hluttaw Rights Committee, and the Government Credibility Committee – to solve problems that Burma has always been facing. It has already reported in the first Hluttaw meeting. Therefore, there is no place to use the term “permanent”. If we want to create a similar committee again, we can create a commission, instead of a committee, that will include Hluttaw representatives and appropriate citizens according to Section 150 of Amyotha Hluttaw and Section 118 of Pyithu Hluttaw. The existing committee can keep working on what they are working on. However, creating a committee to build forever peace and stability has to go along the lines of the constitution. So, if we do according to the constitution, a commission is the only way. Only an inclusive commission could effectively build home peace in a short period of time.

Narinjara: Do you think the proposal to include Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in the peace commission would become fruitful in the current uniform-changed government?

Dr. Aye Maung: I think it would. As everyone knows the president and Daw Aung Suu Kyi have met. Also, she attended the economic development forum held in MMCC. She also would like to see Burma more developed. Likewise, she also sent an open letter to bring peace to the armed conflict areas. The ethnic armed groups also accepted it. We also know that Burmese welcome it. That day, I read out Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s open letter from the beginning until the end in the Hluttaw. Currently, the president also wants peace. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has also expressed her desire to get involved deeply in this matter. Before the Hluttaw began, 23 representatives also gave an open letter. Representatives from the Hluttaw also want that now. Likewise, people from home and abroad also want that. Right now, the tide is high. If we could do that at this time and at this moment, perpetual peace could be achieved. It is important to take advantage of this chance. Exploiting the opportunity presented at this time, if we could create a commission with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, everyone will trust that commission. Only a commission with some admired people could actually win peace. That is just my opinion. In my mind, it will succeed. However, we need to take some time in the Hluttaw to study the matter.

Narinjara: Have you heard of anything regarding the opinion of the authority on the proposal to include Daw Suu in the forever peace commission?

Dr. Aye Maung: The responses are good. They also have the same desire in their hearts. However, under the “shade”, I can not tell whether it’s white or black exactly. But most [representatives] accept that there is a nice and cool shade ahead. When I talk to some who I am close with, individually they all have the same desire because at this time both sides need to be accommodating. One side can not be stiff while the other is flexible. Let’s say administration is inept. Then, legislature can not afford to be late. In the legislature process, I think it would be better if the countrymen cooperate as we go toward peace. I think such desire is quite prevalent among the representatives.

Narinjara: As RNDP, have you all decided how far you will go to try to build peace in the country?

Dr. Aye Maung: The priority of our party is development. Peace is a prerequisite for development. Only after attaining peace can development plans materialize into reality. Therefore, we are very serious about peace. As we need peace in our own state, so we also want others to have peace as well. We want a union with no conflict. Therefore, we need to find out the root cause of the conflict and how the conflict got started. The union has ethnic conflict. Only after we collectively solve the ethnic conflict problem, will there be a true union spirit. That’s why we are proposing this. To tackle the Shan matter, Arakanese should take part in the effort. Karen should also participate. All should solve it collectively. We can’t just leave the Kachin to solve their own problems. We can’t say Karen will solve their own problem. The Karen matter is a union matter. The Kachin matter is also a union matter. If we want to solve the Kachin conflict, we all should try to solve it collectively. Karen should be in there. Arakanese should be in there. Mon should be in there. Shan should be in there. I personally don’t accept regional efforts to solve a particular problem, and neither does my party. We have formed a “brotherhood” alliance with other parties. We will seek stronger cooperation and will work together with them toe to toe in the appropriate areas. We have called for peace. Our party has demanded peace. To achieve peace, we need to build trust. Before we build trust, we all need to have a will. We need to discuss and solve, and each side needs to have a strong belief in national reconciliation. Both sides need to be willing to compromise. That’s what I think.

Narinjara: Would you like to add anything else?

Dr. Aye Maung: I want a peaceful Burma. I want a peaceful Arakan. To catch up with other countries in a short time frame, our society must try very hard. Therefore, we must unite. If there are things that can be sorted out through discussion, let’s discuss them. To those who are living abroad, I would like to say that in order to make people’s dreams come true, we would like to build a union in a unified manner. We also would like to invite those who are inside the country to join us in our efforts.