Thailand seizes rare art, documents and ‘treasure’ from Myanmar

Image copyright AFP Image caption TV reporter says haul includes rare ancient art from Myanmar Thirteen Myanmar journalists are among 256 people indicted in Bangkok on charges of possessing stolen cultural treasures, documents and…

Thailand seizes rare art, documents and 'treasure' from Myanmar

Image copyright AFP Image caption TV reporter says haul includes rare ancient art from Myanmar

Thirteen Myanmar journalists are among 256 people indicted in Bangkok on charges of possessing stolen cultural treasures, documents and paintings.

Myanmar’s embassy in Thailand said Thai officials had seized artwork, tools and cartons of treasure.

Some of the items are now in a temple in the Nambu National Park in northern India.

An additional 280 others have been returned to India after DNA testing.

The cameras, documents and visual art come from a cache of more than 1,000 antiquities seized by Thai authorities in November 2016.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Rohingya businessman Ragubath Chubmakka (L) and his wife Laam Tee Lwin in court

Thai authorities have since processed 841 artefacts, 12 of which have been sent to Myanmar, the embassy said.

Cameras, cultural documents and most of the art objects are now in a temple in the Nambu National Park in northern India.

“We have worked with the Indian temple administration to return the treasures,” Thailand’s director-general of the Culture Ministry, Yuthasak Supasorn, told local media.

Huge haul

Thai police announced the arrests in November 2017, saying those who were indicted included film-maker Sorchai Thapa, a director who was directing a TV series on Myanmar when he was arrested.

A video he took showed more than a dozen people having the looted artefacts valued at 618,000 US dollars – including three Myanmar nationals.

His wife and his nephew, Laam Tee Lwin, were also indicted. They are accused of possessing a stolen canoe, craftsmanship and motor tools, according to the indictment.

They made daily trips to Myanmar, taking the artefacts home in sacks, bags and boxes to be sold, the indictment added.

Images shared on social media appeared to show Ragubath Chubmakka, who manages a construction company that was involved in building roads near Nanyu Lake in northern Myanmar, with his wife and some of the seized artefacts.

Chubmakka, who is from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, was also jailed for a year in January for incitement after reportedly asking permission from a human rights group to display the artefacts at his office.

Human rights groups argue that Myanmar’s military, accused of mass killings and sexual violence against Rohingya Muslims, was involved in the crime.

The Naypyidaw government has denied the charges.

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