THE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF AFGHANISTAN
BY ICOMOS AND ICOM
(International Council on Monuments and Sites) and ICOM (International Council
of Museums) learned with great shock of the new decree issued by the Taliban
leadership of Mullah Mohammad Omar ordering the systematic destruction of all
statues in the country. This decision breaks the commitment made by the Taliban
leadership in 1999 to protect all cultural heritage in Afghanistan and in
particular the giant Buddha figures at Bamiyan.
to the dishonour of breaking a commitment to preserve the ancient and diverse
heritage of Afghanistan as part of that of the whole of mankind, such an act of
destruction would be a total cultural catastrophe. It would remain written in
the pages of history next to the most infamous acts of barbarity.
many years, ICOM has alerted the world on illicit trade in cultural objects from
Afghanistan. ICOMOS, in its 2000 World Report on monuments and sites in danger ,
pointed out in detail the dangers to cultural heritage in Afghanistan, in
particular the pre-Islamic figures of the Buddha in Bamiyan. This decree of Mullah
Mohammad Omar confirms the imminence of this danger.
world-wide non-governmental organizations, ICOMOS and ICOM call on all people,
governments, International Organizations and associations to take immediate
action to prevent this cultural catastrophe from happening. A dialogue should be
established with the Taliban leaders to ensure adequate protection of all Afghan
heritage, whether pre-Islamic or Islamic. This is a matter of the highest
importance and the greatest emergency.
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