Daesh issues 'permits to loot heritage sites'
Abu Dhabi - During a panel discussion on 'Emergency Protection of Cultural Heritage' it was highlighted that terror group Daesh was issuing 'looting permits'.
The International Conference for the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage on Friday placed the onus on general public to stand tall and be counted in the fight protect and preserve sites. During a panel discussion on 'Emergency Protection of Cultural Heritage' it was highlighted that terror group Daesh was issuing 'looting permits'.
Delegates from more than 40 countries attended the two-day forum.
Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority chairman Mohammad Khalifa Al Mubarak opened the event and said the UAE lays great importance on cultural heritage.
"We have an archaeological site recognised by Unesco as one of the oldest cradles of humanity in the world," he said.
Louvre Museum president and director Jean-Luc Martinez said the need of the hour was to instill confidence in people.
"Destroying heritage is severing ties with history. General public is used as a tool in destruction. We need to reinstate hope in public."
From Bamiyan to Palmyra is on the agenda, he said.
Acting Provost/Undersecretary for Museums and Research of the Smithsonian Institution Richard Kurin said: "Local community has got stakes in saving heritage sites. Terror group Daesh issue looting permits. People get permit for looting. We have to understand these scenarios in a more scientific way."
Sahel Museum in Gao (Mali) director Aldiouma Yattara stressed more engagement from the general public so that they have a 'sense of belonging'.
"After the 2012 crisis, local community helped reconstruct a mosque. The dark forces have exited the country and the common man is back connecting with the roots. Country without culture has no roots."
"During the rebellion, many sites were destroyed but thanks to coordination between communities, the mosque was spared."
He said the situation still is fragile in Mali. "We need international cooperation. Also, we need to educate people on importance of such sites."
Brigadier General Fabrizio Parrulli, Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage Commander, said Italy and Unesco established a Task Force earlier this year to protect ancient cultural artifacts.
"The 'Unite4Heritage' Task Force has so far helped recover more than 3,500 relevant artifacts by 1,262 units employed between August 24 and November 24."
Parrulli said: "Terrorists trying to destroy our history. We need to raise public awareness on protecting sites. Preserving heritage is preserving humanity."
Unesco World Heritage Centre Chief of the Arab States Unit Nada Al Hassan stressed the importance of local community and civil society.
"Monuments and museums should be avoided as military targets. Now we have military coming to Unesco and ask about details of the heritage sites to avoid. This is a pleasing development."
She said the need of the hour is for everyone to work together in documenting.
"It is important to prevent artifact trafficking from Syria and Iraq."
Iconem chief executive Yves Uebelmann touched on the aspect of digital conservation of archaeological sites.
"There is unregulated urbanisation in Afghanistan. Some of the sites are beyond physical conservation."
"We did digital copy of Mes Aynak," he said about the site in Afghanistan that has over 400 Buddha statues.
He said his firm is looking at Palmyra. "We are looking at 20 sites."
Unesco director-general Irina Bokova said the $100 million international fund will ensure 'protection of culture, to re-build, protect, and unite for heritage'.
Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris president Jack Lang said the UAE is a role model for the rest of the world. "We are short of time - the problem is getting worse and it is becoming harder to protect this heritage in times of war and terrorism. We work hand in hand with Unesco to protect heritage and we are sharing responsibility with the UAE in this fight. I want to thank the UAE and its leadership for their contributions."