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.