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Mali, UNESCO Plead for Help

Published: July 4, 2012 (Issue # 1716)



  • Malian Culture Minister Fadima Toure Diallo (l) stands with Daniel Rondeau, Frances UNESCO ambassador, at the Bronze Horseman monument Tuesday as she makes an emotional appeal for the preservation of heritage being destroyed in Timbuktu.
    Photo: DMITRY LOVETSKY / AP

An emergency appeal was made in St. Petersburg on Tuesday during which ambassadors from UNESCO and the Malian Minister of Culture called for the worlds governments and international organizations not to allow vandals to wipe out historical monuments in the Malian city of Timbuktu.

UNESCO representatives, who read out the appeal in English, Russian, French, Arabic and Spanish in front of the citys famed Bronze Horseman monument, described the destruction being carried out by Islamist extremists as a crime against history.

This is one of the most ancient African temples which is disappearing, UNESCO representatives, who were gathered in the city for the 40th anniversary of the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, said in the appeal.

The Malian Minister of Culture, Diallo Fadimo Toure, who struggled to hold back tears, thanked the world for its solidarity and sympathy, saying that the destruction of such a unique and sacred place as Timbuktu would be a huge loss for all of Africa and the world.

Eleonora Mitrofanova, head of the World Heritage Committee, said Malis culture minister is also worried about the condition of the ancient manuscripts that are preserved in the area as the destruction could disturb the controlled conditions under which they are kept.

Ali Ould Sidi, head of the Timbuktu Cultural Mission, said the Malian people were being attacked in their hearts and souls by what is being done to their historical monuments.

Last week UNESCO accepted Malis request to put Timbuktu on the list of World Heritage sites that are in danger. In response, Islamic extremist groups destroyed three sacred tombs with pickaxes, UNESCO said.

Muslim extremists continued destroying heritage sites in the ancient city of Timbuktu on Monday, razing tombs and attacking the gate of a 600-year-old mosque, despite a growing international outcry, The Associated Press reported.

The International Criminal Court has described the destruction of the citys patrimony as a possible war crime, while UNESCOs committee on world heritage was holding a special session this week to address the pillaging of the listed site.

The Islamic faction, known as Ansar Dine, or Protectors of the Faith, seized control of Timbuktu last week after ousting the Tuareg rebel faction that had invaded northern Mali alongside Ansar Dines soldiers three months ago. During the weekend, fighters screaming Allah Akbar descended on the cemeteries holding the remains of Timbuktus Sufi saints, and systematically began destroying the six most famous tombs.

Reached by telephone in an undisclosed location in northern Mali, a spokesman for the faction said they do not recognize either the United Nations or the world court.

The only tribunal we recognize is the divine court of Shariah, said Ansar Dine spokesman Oumar Ould Hamaha, the AP reported.

The destruction is a divine order, he said.

Its our Prophet who said that each time that someone builds something on top of a grave, it needs to be pulled back to the ground. We need to do this so that future generations dont get confused, and start venerating the saints as if they are God.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBAs newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is Handmade in Germany, an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during todays Djembe and Vuvuzela, a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of todays round table discussion on Interaction with Trade Unions being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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