"Ombilin was designated as a world cultural heritage today," Education and Culture Ministry's Director of Cultural Heritage and Diplomacy Nadjamuddin Ramly told Antara on Saturday.
It is the fifth world cultural heritage in Indonesia after the Borobudur Temple (1991), Prambanan Temple (1991), Sangiran Site (1996), and Subak system in Bali (2012).
The country also has four world natural heritage sites: Komodo National Park (1991), Lorentz National Park (1999), Sumatra Tropical Forest (2004), and Ujung Kulon National Park (1991).
In 2015, Sawahlunto City was included on the temporary list of world cultural heritage. Since then, the process of data collection, preparation of supporting documents, and protracted discussions with experts and academics from within and outside the country have been intensified.
Finally, a proposal emerged to expand the nomination theme to strengthen Outstanding Universal Value.
The expansion of the nomination theme certainly has implications for the expansion of the nomination area by combining several cities or districts, specifically, Padang City, Padang Panjang City, Solok City, Solok Regency, Padang Pariaman Regency, and Tanah Datar District in West Sumatra into one nominated region: "Ombilin Coal Mining Heritage of Sawahlunto."
"The site of the Ombilin Coal Mining Heritage of Sawahlunto was of outstanding universal value, as it met the criteria two and four," Ramly explained.
Criteria two is that it should exhibit an important interchange of humanitarian values over a period of time or within the scope of cultural areas, in the development of architecture and technology, monumental arts, urban planning, and landscape design.
In connection with criteria two, the uniqueness of the Ombilin mine is reflected in the exchange of information and local technology with European technology related to coal exploitation in the late 19th century to the start of the 20th century in the world, especially in Southeast Asia.
Under criteria four, the site should be an exemplary example of a building type, architectural work, and combination of technologies or landscapes that elucidate crucial stages in human history.
"In this case, the uniqueness of the Ombilin coal mine site in Sawahlunto exemplifies a series of technological combinations in a mining city landscape designed for efficiency in the coal extraction, processing, and transportation phases, as demonstrated in the company organizations, division of labor, mining schools, and structuring a mining city inhabited by around seven thousand residents," Ramly further elaborated.
He revealed that the submission of the initial draft nomination document, carrying the proposed name change to "Ombilin Coal Mining Heritage of Sawahlunto" to the UNESCO World Heritage Center was conducted on September 30, 2016, followed by repeated revisions, until the final nomination text was sent at the end of January 2018.
The manuscript was finally declared complete and subsequently evaluated its feasibility to become a world heritage by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), which is the Advisory Board of the UNESCO World Heritage Center cultural category.
This evaluation phase encompasses the stages of conducting field evaluation, requesting the first additional information document, conducting teleconference interview, and requesting the second additional information document.
After the ICOMOS evaluation results were published, a new request emerged, so the Indonesian government examined the ICOMOS recommendations and sent factual error information from the recommendations to UNESCO.
Non-technical efforts to encourage the Ombilin Coal Mining Heritage of Sawahlun to became a world heritage were conducted jointly by the Education and Culture Ministry and Foreign Affairs Ministry during a day-long public diplomacy meeting.
"Several records must be completed before the deadline of December 1, 2021. After the designation by UNESCO, all parties involved in the Ombilin Coal Mining Heritage of Sawahlunto are expected to maintain its status as a world cultural heritage," Ramly concluded.
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Translator: Indriani/Yashinta Difa Pramudy
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