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Comments from Non-governmental Organizations "Destructive Frenzy in Afghanistan"
March 2, 2001

International Council on Monuments and Sites and International Council of Museums: [ICOMOS and ICOM] "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. Adding 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.

Dimitri Loundras, the Greek Ambassador in Pakistan and Chairman of the Society for the Preservation of Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage: "The past of Afghanistan belongs to the Afghan people. Secondly, it is also world heritage." "Mullah Omar's latest instruction to destroy pre-Islamic statues in Afghanistan is unacceptable and must be reversed immediately." "If they reverse their decision, it could be seen as a positive sign for future discussions with the Taliban authorities."

Nancy Dupree, Society for the Preservation of Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage: "It is absolutely sickening. I can't believe what I'm hearing. You could not enter the Bamiyan Valley without being in awe of the creative dynamism of these figures. They belong to the whole world; they don't belong only to Afghanistan." "Why spend money on an old building when the people need so much? These old buildings are Afghanistan's identity. And when you lose your identity, you've lost your soul."

Association of Art Museum Directors: "AAMD considers this an assault of the cultural and historical achievements of world civilization and humanity."

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© 2001 by the Archaeological Institute of America
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