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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

Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburgs showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the teams website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literatures most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poets birthday. The tragic tenors work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russias greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Centers Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test ones intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only mans best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during todays reenactment titled Winter War: How it Was. More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie Black Cat, White Cat, as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of Takoy Festival, a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonights festival finale is Fathers and Sons, a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenevs classic about familial relations.



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