October 19, 2018
Buddha statues inside the Lemyethna Temple in Mrauk U, Rakhine State have been vandalized on Wednesday night.
“Over ten Buddha statues have been vandalized. Two of them have been seriously damaged. A solid object was used to damage the statues,” U Than Myint, vice-chair of the Cultural Heritage Conservation Group, said to Narinjara News.
Although he does not know who the culprits are, the villagers told U Than Myint that they were vandalized on Wednesday night and the issue has been reported to the archeology department.
This Lemyethna Temple is a historically significant temple. It was built by Rakhine King Min Saw Mon, who founded Mrauk U, in AD 1430. It’s a temple with outstanding architecture and the Buddha statues are very sublime,” he said.
Although the Lemyethna Temple has a door, it is broken so the vandals were able to enter the temple easily and vandalize the statues, he continued.
The Shitethaung Temple Board of Trustee’s chair U Kyaw Thein said the temple’s lack of security of the reason is why the vandals were able to enter and cause damages.
“This Lemyethna Temple is not under the Shitethaung Temple Board of Trustee’s supervision. It’s under Mrauk U Department of Archaeology. Only the department will know whether or not charges will be filed. Officials from the Township General Administration and Ward Administrator came to observe [the situation] yesterday,” he said.
“It’s true about the weak security. We don’t have enough staff as there are many temples. There is a plan to appoint more staff and protect the temples,” said Dr Than Htike, staff officer of Mrauk U Department of Archaeology.
He added that the department will inform the police about the vandalism of the ancient Buddha statues and consult with respective officials.
Local residents suspect that the vandalism was committed by youths who were using drugs. The Department of Archaeology’s staff officer Dr Than Htike, the Cultural Heritage Conservation Group’s vice-chair U Than Myint, and the Shitethaung Temple Board of Trustee’s chair U Kyaw Thein will investigate whether or not it is true.