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Asia-Pacific Heritage News in Press 2007

[More News from 2006]

November 2007

Chinese archaeologists in race to save relics

“Chinese archaeologists are working against the clock to save relics threatened by construction for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Chinese archaeologists are facing a desperate race against time to save reasures from sites earmarked for development ahead of the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

According to reports, billions of dollars are being spent on new building projects ahead of the sporting event and archaeologists are working tirelessly to save as many artefacts as possible as they are unearthed by construction crews.”
UKTV History – 15 November 2007: 

October 2007

Bang a Gong: Gong Culture Festival 2007

“Following UNESCO’s recognition, agencies are now launching an effort to honor and promote the value of gong culture in Viet Nam. They are calling on whole communities to preserve and expand the cultural values of the highlanders by organizing the Central Highlands Gong Culture Festival 2007 in Buon Ma Thuot City next month.

The event on 21-24 November will incorporate some 30 gong troupes and thousands of artists and musicians from all over the country who will perform in museums and the ‘Eternal Talk from Mountains and Jungles’ street show. Five guest troupes from Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia will also be on hand. The festival will highlight customary activities in the daily life of highlanders like knitting, weaving, and popular games. Music and clothing specifi c to the different ethnic groups in Viet Nam, as well as an elephant parade will also be part of the event.

A seminar entitled ‘Gong Cultural Space – Present Status and Conservation Measures’ will provide an opportunity to discuss ways of preserving this important cultural legacy.”
Thanh Nien Daily - 23 October 2007:

Ayutthaya might be removed from Unesco's World Heritage list

"Culture Minister Khunying Khaisri Sriaroon said Wednesday it would be "unfortunate and embarrassing" if Unesco removes the Historic City of Ayutthaya and Associated Historic Towns from the World Heritage list after the site was under threat of land encroachments from rapid development. Khaisri had received an initial report from the Fine Arts Department claiming the site, inscribed on Unesco's World Heritage List in December 1991, had problems with city planning that might lead to the site being removed from the list, the minister said.  Ayutthaya was also deemed a world heritage with the most problems with land encroachments, which was now beyond Fine Arts Department officials' control, Khaisri said."

Nation Multimedia - 17 October 2007:

New tourist route could be answer to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat woes

"As tourism in Angkor Wat continues to grow unabated, a new tourist route could alleviate some of the tourist pressure. For many years now, the Cambodian government has been looking for solutions to take some of the pressure out of the site. As the first seven months of 2007 brought 442,000 visitors to Siem Reap International Airport, a growth of 38 percent, Angkor Wat is poised to continue to take a beating from the hordes of tourists that visit the world heritage site. The Apsara Authority, which manages the Angkor Wat complex, recently introduced new paths with tourists taking different routes to enter and exit the temple. The objective now is to make certain that tourists do not flock to the site at the same time. The idea is to create circuits around Angkor Wat to spread the number of visitors and take some of the pressure faced by Angkor top attractions."
Travel Video Television News - 17 October 2007:

Vandals strike Hoi An’s world heritage Cau temple

"Over the past few days, vandals have been damaging the Cau Temple, a World Cultural Heritage site in Hoi An. Intruders destroyed the temple’s front door, broke the seal of its charity box and dumped five decorative lanterns in a nearby river. While investigations ensue, Hoi An Center for Relic Preservation and Management manager Nguyen Chi Trung suggested to Thanh Nien the vandals may have been just a bunch of drunken boys."

Thanh Nien Daily - 16 October 2007:

September 2007

Cambodia bid to protect treasures

Looting is evident even at protected Angkor Wat Cambodia has invited international law enforcement agencies to help protect the country's ancient temples. US homeland security and FBI agents are among those who may be advising the new national heritage police force. They are hoping to put an end to the rampant looting that has seen many monuments stripped of their statues. Peace has not been kind to many of Cambodia's ancient monuments. As decades of conflict ended in the 1990s, looting accelerated dramatically. The local authorities and the United Nations' cultural organisation, UNESCO, moved quickly to protect the world-famous Angkor Wat and its surrounding temples. But more remote sites were left to their fate. US agents and local officers have been meeting in Siem Reap to discuss ways of protecting what is left.

BBC News - 27 September 2007:

Pollutive mines eyed as UNESCO heritage site

"An application is to be filed Wednesday with the Cultural Affairs Agency seeking UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site candidate status for the Ashio copper mines-a site of major pollution in the Meiji era (1868-1912), it has been learned. The application by the governments of Tochigi Prefecture and Nikko in the prefecture embraces the "negative history" of the Nikko mines, which were described in the application as "an environmental problem in the shadow of industrial development." Other "negative" UNESCO sites include the A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima and Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, but according to the the agency there are no sites listed in regard to pollution."A residents group from the former town of Ashiomachi started campaigning for the mines' nomination in 2005, with the initial objective of promoting tourism by highlighting the positive role the mines played in the modernization of the nation's industry."

Yomiuri news - 21 September 2007

Attack on giant Pakistan Buddha

"We heard the sound of drilling twice and then early Tuesday morning we heard two blasts" Villager Amir Khan. "Militants drilled holes in the rock and filled them with dynamite and blew it up," provincial archaeology department official Aqleem Khan told Reuters news agency. "The explosion damaged the upper part of the rock but there was no damage to the image itself." And eyewitness, Shahid Khan, told the BBC that because of its location on a steep ridge the statue had been only slightly damaged. It is carved into a 40m (130-foot) high rock. Local archaeology expert Professor Pervaiz Shaheen told the BBC that the Buddha statue in Swat valley was considered the largest in Asia, after the two Bamiyan Buddhas. He said it was 2,200 years old. Swat valley is a centre of the ancient Gandhara civilization.

BBC NEWS - 12 September 2007:

Global warming threatens Indonesia's Borobudur temple

"MAGELANG, Indonesia - Like any historical monument, Indonesia's magnificent Borobudur temple in central Java has suffered the ravages of time. But now conservationists fear the world's biggest Buddhist temple, topped with stupas and decorated with hundreds of reliefs depicting Buddhist thought and the life of Buddha, faces a new threat: climate change."

Yahoo news - 6 September 2007:

August 2007

Study Seen As Conservation Wake-Up Call

“The study in this week’s online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that Angkor was far larger than previously thought, incorporating an elaborate water management network of nearly 400 square miles and rice paddies to feed more than 1 million people. Researchers discovered, however, that the complex was too vast to manage and could have contributed to the civilization’s decline. The extending rice fi elds resulted in serious ecological problems, including deforestation, topsoil degradation and erosion.”
The Washington Post – 15 August 2007: 

June 2007

Climate fears for heritage sites

“Campaigners say the UN must take urgent action to protect six World Heritage sites, including Mount Everest, from the impact of climate change. Groups, including Greenpeace and the Climate Justice Programme, have been petitioning the global body to list the locations as “in danger”. Nations that have signed the UN World Heritage Convention have a legal duty to cut emissions, the campaigners say. We can save our world heritage for future generations, but only if we take urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas pollution,” said Phil Freeman of Climate Action Network Australia.”
BBC News – 23 June 2007: 

April 2007

ACCU award for shadow puppet troupe

“A grand shadow puppet play troupe has won a prestigious international cultural award. Ratchaburi’s Wat Khanon troupe won the Contest for Better Practices in Communities’ Intangible Cultural Heritage Revitalisation awarded by the Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO.

The troupe was one of six winners. “We recorded and submitted the troupe’s grand shadow puppet play (known as nang yai) featuring an episode from the Ramakien,” Offi ce of National Culture Commission secretary-general Prissana Pongtadsirikul said yesterday. She described the shadow play as a valuable cultural heritage combining several art forms. The play uses elaborately carved leather puppets that perform to music and narration.

There are just three grand shadow puppet play troupes still performing in Thailand. ‘The grand shadow puppet play is rare’, Prissana said. The Wat Khanon troupe will be asked to stage a performance in Japan during an Asia-Pacifi c Cultural Centre for UNESCO workshop in June.”

The Nations - 23 April 2007
China publishes dictionary of intangible cultural heritage

“The Encyclopedia of China’s Intangible Cultural Heritage was published Friday, introducing many national intangible masterpieces including the Spring Festival, Peking Opera, acupuncture and Shaolin Kungfu, using more than 3,000 pictures and 600,000 Chinese characters. ‘The book provides very rare data for protection and study of intangible cultural heritage, and will signifi cantly raise awareness of the need to protect China’s heritage,’ said vice cultural minister Zhou Heping on Friday.”

Xinhua News Agency – 13 April 2007

January 2007

Chinese Media Trained in Cultural Heritage Protection

“Recently, the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center (CHP) has been involved in two major training activities, both targeted at a very important stakeholder in cultural heritage protection issues: the Chinese media. Working with Internews, an international media training organization, CHP trained over twenty journalists from Northeast China on January 6, 2007; this was the fi rst in a series of media training sessions around China to which CHP will provide specialized expertise on cultural heritage protection law. And last week, CHP responded to a request by CCTV-2 to meet with them in order to discuss issues related to cultural heritage protection laws and were greeted enthusiastically by over fifty editors and journalists.”