Herald Middle East

Lost Artifacts and ISIS

Save our history from destruction!

On the 16th and 17th November of 2016  Country representatives from, Bulgaria,The Republic of Cameroon, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Libya, The Republic of Lithuania, The Republic of India, The Slovak Republic, The Republic of Azerbaijan, The Republic of Malta and The French Republic gathered in Paris for the 70th anniversary of UNESCO  to express their determination to aid in the organisations efforts to promote dialogue, education and the safeguarding of cultural heritage in its diversity. They will participate in the Organization’s Leaders’ Forum, marking UNESCO’s 70th Anniversary, taking a stand for human rights and human dignity and against violent extremism in the wake of the attacks in Paris.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova also introduced an evening program that featured a performance by the World Orchestra for Peace, which has been designated UNESCO Artist for Peace. Musicians representing 19 nationalities will play works of Samuel Barber and Tchaikovsky – and their performance will be dedicated to the victims of the terrorist attacks on Friday.
This is an event marked by mourning for the victims and as a show of the organisations solidarity with France.

The French President gave an inspiring speech about saving our history from destruction either by illegal trade done by criminals or as a result of war and terrorism by ISIS. He also spoke of a plan of action France intends to implement following the destruction of cultural heritage sites in Iraq and Syria, and called for the creation of an international fund to support cultural properties in danger.

During the Islamic militants’ war on Syria and Iraq’s cultural heritage, they attacked archaeological sites with bulldozers and explosives. It has been said that the devastation was part of a propaganda campaign which includes destructive rampages through culturally significant sites.
The world has been witnessing one of the greatest systematic destruction of Islamic sites in modern times—at the hands of Muslim militants.

To put this in perspective here are just a few of the cultural sites that ISIS has damaged or destroyed so far:

Palmyra
Mar Elian Monastery
Apamea
Dura-Europos
Mari

And those are just the ones located in Syria, there are many more in Iraq and Libya. ISIS destruction of ancient sites hits mostly Muslim targets. To find out more about these archaeological sites please visit: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/150901-isis-destruction-looting-ancient-sites-iraq-syria-archaeology/

These sites belong to the people Iraq, Syria and Libya and the destruction should be considered a war crime.

These acts of devastation supposedly in the name of religion are dishonest and hypocritical; ISIS has also been busy looting archaeological sites to support its thriving illegal trade in antiquities. Letting them do this is allowing them to grow stronger therefore more dangerous.

They are not sure how much ISIS actually earns from the trade but Iraqi officials say it is the group’s second most important commercial activity after oil sales, earning the militants tens of millions of dollars.
One indicator of how quickly the illegal trade may be growing is the number of declared imports into the United States of antiquities said to be excavated long enough ago to be legal to trade.
The value of antiques and ancient artifacts from Iraq, Syria and Egypt imported into the United States jumped fourfold between 2010 and 2014, reaching more than $3.5 million, according to U.S. International Trade Commission figures.
Why isn’t there a blanket ban on the trade in antiquities from the country? There needs to be better education and regulation; by purchasing these items people are potentially funding terrorism.

The French President declared that UNESCO stands for the unity of all cultures of the world and he paid tribute to their crucial role in protecting cultural heritage and diversity.

President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan invited the international community to bolster its support for the Organization and added that more time and resources should be invested into the spread of a culture of peace. UNESCO has the appropriate order, indisputable experience, and resources such as education, culture, sport, communication and science to act as one of the most effective and shortest ways to prevent the type of conflicts we are seeing all over the world.

Sources and References:

UNESCO 2015, UNESCO and World Leaders’ rally against violence and extremism as they mark the Organization’s 70th anniversary. Available from: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/single-view/news/unesco_and_world_leaders_rally_against_violence_and_extremism_as_they_mark_the_organizations_70th_anniversary/#.Vkv8edLR-t-

National Geographic 1996-2015, Here Are the Ancient Sites ISIS Has Damaged and Destroyed. Available from: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/150901-isis-destruction-looting-ancient-sites-iraq-syria-archaeology/

The Washington Post 1996-2015, Islamic State isn’t just destroying ancient artifacts — it’s selling them. Available from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/islamic-state-isnt-just-destroying-ancient-artifacts–its-selling-them/2015/06/08/ca5ea964-08a2-11e5-951e-8e15090d64ae_story.html

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