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International Reactions "Destructive Frenzy in Afghanistan"
March 2, 2001

U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Reeker: "The United States is distressed and baffled by this announcement by the Taliban. Their action directly contradicts one of Islam's basic tenets--tolerance for other religions. Deliberate destruction of statues and sculpture held as sacred by peoples of different faiths is incomprehensible, as is the Taliban's utter rejection of the treasures of Afghanistan's past. The United States joins the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan, the UN Economic and Social Council and other governments in urging the Taliban to halt this desecration of Afghanistan's cultural heritage."

The European Union: "The EU strongly urges the Taliban leadership not to implement this deeply tragic decision which will deprive the people of Afghanistan of its rich cultural heritage."

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero: "The announcement by Mullah Mohamed Omar, supreme leader of the Taliban, that all pre-Islamic statues would be destroyed is appalling."

Russian Foreign Ministry: "These intentions cannot be judged otherwise than as an assault on the cultural and historical achievements of not only the Afghan people, but also of world civilization. The Taliban's vandalism against material objects of the rich spiritual heritage of the ancient Afghan world shows their clear enmity to common human values."

German Foreign Ministry: "Germany is appalled by the willful destruction of cultural artifacts in Afghanistan. The damage to culturally unique Buddha statues by the Taliban cannot be justified."

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori's spokesman, Kazuhiko Koshikawa: "The Japanese government is deeply concerned. If they are ruined, it would be an immeasurable loss. The Japanese government hopes that Taliban will review such a decision and take appropriate measures."

Thailand's Foreign Ministry spokesman Pradap Pibulsonggram: [Loss of the Bamiyan Buddhas would be a] "loss to humanity. It's the loss of Afghanistan to destroy these. One day when they resolve their problems, they'll want to attract tourism. This would help them. The Taliban is destroying not so much the Buddhist image, but something that is in their country that is of value, even though they're not Buddhists. It's their loss"

Sri Lanka's government spokesman Ariya Rubasinghe: "If true, this is a very serious matter and we are gravely concerned."

Italy's ambassador to Pakistan Angelo Gabriele de Ceglie: "It is a great loss, a tragedy for the Afghan people and for the world. This is a historical treasure, a cultural heritage that belongs to the world." "This is a stupid decision that is symptomatic of a general malaise in the country."


© 2001 by the Archaeological Institute of America