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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."

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© 2001 by the Archaeological Institute of America
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