Comments from the United Nations
"Destructive Frenzy in Afghanistan"
March 2, 2001
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan: "the unique and irreplaceable
relics of Afghanistan's rich heritage, both Islamic and non-Islamic, is the
strongest foundation for a better, more peaceful and more tolerant future
for all its people." "Destroying any relic, any monument, any statue will
only prolong the climate of conflict. After 22 years of war, destruction
and drought, there can only be one priority for the government: to rebuild
the country, to renew the fabric of society, and to relieve the immense
suffering and deprivation of the people of Afghanistan."
UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura: [they] "carry a terrible
responsibility before the people of Afghanistan and before history. The
loss of the Afghan statues, and of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in particular,
would be a loss for humanity as a whole." "Words fail me to describe
adequately my feelings of consternation and powerlessness as I see the
reports of the irreversible damage damage that is being done to
Afghanistan's exceptional cultural heritage."
UNESCO's Christian Manhart, head of the Asian Division in the Cultural
Heritage Department: "We cannot do a lot because we do not have
international police forces to intervene. UNESCO considers this to be a
crisis. We are scandalised, but there is always hope."
"As soon as we heard about Mullah Omar's order, on Monday [26 February]
night, we launched an appeal to the Taliban. We sent this appeal to the
international press, with an emphasis on the Pakistani press, because we
know that Pakistan has a certain influence on the Taliban. This morning [28
February], we issued a second appeal to the Taliban, along with a message
from our Director General [Koichiro Matsuura of Japan]. It is a stronger
appeal that reminds the Taliban it should not expect international
recognition if they commit such acts."
UN Special Envoy to Afghanistan Francesc Vendrell: "It's going to have
negative implications for the Taliban's image around the world."
© 2001 by the Archaeological Institute of America