Showing results 1 - 12 of 35 for the tag: Iraq.

February 1, 2016

Satellite images show ISIS destroyed Iraq’s oldest monastery

Posted at 2:01 pm in Similar cases

Iraq’s oldest Christian Monastery has been destroyed by ISIS, according to analysis of recent satellite photos of the area.

St Elijah’s monastery in Mosul had been used as a place of worship for 1,400 years.

US Soldiers celebrate Easter Mass at St Elijah’s monastery in 2010

US Soldiers celebrate Easter Mass at St Elijah’s monastery in 2010

From:
Guardian

Isis has destroyed Iraq’s oldest Christian monastery, satellite images confirm
Associated Press
Wednesday 20 January 2016 12.16 GMT

New satellite photos confirm what church leaders and Middle East preservationists had feared: the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been reduced to rubble, yet another victim of Islamic State’s relentless destruction of heritage sites it considers heretical.

St Elijah’s monastery stood as a place of worship for 1,400 years, including most recently for US troops. In earlier millennia, generations of monks tucked candles in the niches, prayed in the chapel and worshipped at the altar. The Greek letters chi and rho, representing the first two letters of Christ’s name, were carved near the entrance.
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January 27, 2016

Time to fight back against terrorists destroying cultural heritage

Posted at 2:12 pm in Similar cases

In the face of increased ISIS attacks against the ancient heritage of the areas that they occupy, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova outlines the three ways that she believes the world must fight back against such acts.

  1. Fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural objects coming from Iraq and Syria
  2. Reinforce preventive actions
  3. Strengthen international cooperation
The ruins of Apamea in Syria in 2004, before the current conflict

The ruins of Apamea in Syria in 2004, before the current conflict

From:
World Economic Forum

Terrorists are destroying our cultural heritage. It’s time to fight back
Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO
Monday 18 January 2016

At this very moment, the invaluable legacy of humanity’s common heritage is under attack in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya. Heritage sites are destroyed and looted to finance terrorism, individuals are persecuted on religious and cultural grounds, cultural diversity is targeted.

The destruction of culture has become an instrument of terror, in a global strategy to undermine societies, propagate intolerance and erase memories. This cultural cleansing is a war crime that is now used as a tactic of war, to tear humanity from the history it shares.
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January 26, 2016

Could House of Lords push UK to ratify 1954 Hague Convention

Posted at 1:56 pm in Similar cases

As I wrote last time the 1954 Hague Convention came up in the news, I’m not holding my breath on this one. Its been talked about so much, but with very littel sign of actual action.

Recent events in Syria & Iraq have helped focus people’s minds on the issue though, although the looting of Iraq over ten years ago ought to have been enough for Parliament to see the benefits of ratifying the convention.

The House of Lords

The House of Lords

From:
Art Newspaper

Lords put pressure on UK government to sign Hague Convention this year
by Anny Shaw
21 January 2016

Members of the House of Lords and leading cultural heritage experts are again calling on the government to ratify the Hague Convention seven months after it agreed to sign the international agreement. If parliament swiftly ratifies the treaty’s two protocols before any of the other five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the UK will also be in a position to set up a headquarters in London for the Blue Shield, the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross.

During a debate in the House of Lords on 14 January, Baroness Andrews said there was a “growing sense of urgency” to sign the convention following “grotesque failures in Iraq” and “the increasing barbarity in Syria”. She added: “The events of the past six months have, I believe, changed the game.”
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June 21, 2015

UK to ratify 1954 Hague Convention on Cultural Property

Posted at 9:40 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

I’m not holding my breath on this one, as it is not the first time that I have heard this, but the UK Minister of Culture John Whittingdale says that the UK will introduce legislation to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

For many years now, various excuses have been given for not ratifying the treaty, despite pressure from archaeologists, NGOs and many within Parliament.

The current status, although not correctly reported in many news sources, is that the UK signed the convention in 1954, but has yet to ratify it. This groups us with Ireland, Andora and the Phillipines, ass all other countries that signed were also happy to ratify it.

The current impetus to finally ratify this document is no doubt related to the press coverage of the actions of ISIS in Syria and Northen Iraq. One wonders though why the looting following the deposing of Saddam Hussein in the second Gulf War (or many other similar cases prior to that) was not enough to convince the UK of the importance of the document.

It is a step in the right direction, but there are still many more steps that ought to be taken – not least ratifying the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects

Claims are sometimes thrown about, that the reason for not ratifying was that it would help facilitate the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, although I have never been entirely certain that this was the case. I am assuming that the government (which is opposed to the return of the Marbles) will have looked into the legalities of this particular aspect in detail already.

UNESCO logo

UNESCO logo

From:
Guardian

Britain signs convention on protecting treasures in war zones
Toby Helm
Sunday 21 June 2015 00.05 BST

It’s come years late, but the culture secretary is to pledge the UK to helping save historic and artistic artefacts under threat in conflict-torn countries

Britain is to end years of indecision by ratifying an international agreement aimed at preventing the loss of cultural and historic artefacts in conflict zones, amid growing outrage at the destruction by Isis militants of ancient sites in Iraq and Syria.
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March 15, 2015

James Cuno, ISIS and cultural heritage preservation

Posted at 9:11 pm in Similar cases

James Cuno has in the past regularly staked his claim as one of the most hardline retentionists in the US museums world.

In his latest missive to the New York Times letters page, he tries to argue that many of the current problems with looting are actually the fault of UNESCO conventions on cultural property. His line of reasoning is that cultural property laws keep the artefacts in their country of origin – thereby making it easier for other factions within the country to seize / destroy them. There are too many flaws to this argument for me to list. Fortunately Kwame Opoku has taken the time to write a far more comprehensive dis-assembly of Cuno’s arguments than I would have managed.

Isis militants attack ancient artifacts with sledgehammers in the Ninevah Museum in Mosul, Iraq.

Isis militants attack ancient artifacts with sledgehammers in the Ninevah Museum in Mosul, Iraq.

From:
Kwame Opoku (by email)

Does Dr Cuno really believe what he writes?

After my last article, I swore not to comment anymore on Dr.Cuno’s statements in order to avoid any impression that I was unduly concentrating on the opinions of one scholar. (1) However, it seems the U.S. American scholar is never tired of presenting views that most critics would consider patently wrong. Could we just keep quiet when a most influential scholar expresses an opinion that is obviously wrong? In his latest letter to the editor of the New York Times, 11 March,2015,James Cuno, President and Chief Executive of the J. Paul Getty trust, Los Angeles declares

”The recent attacks on the ancient cities of Nimrud and Hatra in Iraq underscore a tragic reality. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization encourages — and provides an institutional instrument for — the retention of antiquities within the borders of the modern state that claims them. That state, very sadly, also has the authority to sell them on the illegal market, damage them or destroy them.
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October 27, 2014

Expropriation of artefacts as a demonstration of power

Posted at 9:55 pm in Similar cases

This article is prompted by the current state of affairs in Iraq & Syria, where ISIS fighters are systematically destroying heritage from cultures that do not fit entirely into their worldview. This is not a new approach however & has been going on for as long as people can remember. The means & the stated aims might vary, but the end result – denigration of the culture of the local population – is invariably the outcome.

The empty seat once occupied by the Bamiyan Buddhas before they were systematically destroyed by the Taliban

The empty seat once occupied by the Bamiyan Buddhas before they were systematically destroyed by the Taliban

From:
Guardian

If great architecture belongs to humanity, do we have a responsibility to save it in wartimes?
Jeff Sparrow
Tuesday 7 October 2014 03.25 BST

The lands of Syria and Iraq gave rise to some the oldest societies we know: the Sumerians, the Akkadians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Parthians, the Romans and many others. Traces of all of these peoples remain in archeological sites of the utmost significance.

And now they’re being destroyed.

A fortnight ago, satellite imagery revealed the cultural effects of Syria’s civil war. “The buildings of Aleppo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, has suffered extensive damage,” explained Archaeology magazine. “The ancient city of Bosra, the ancient site of Palmyra, the ancient villages of Northern Syria, and the castles Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din have all been damaged by mortar impacts and military activity.”
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March 4, 2014

Would Britain stop modern day Monuments Men?

Posted at 2:03 pm in Similar cases

The film Monuments Men has already featured a number of times on this site, even prior to the comments by the lead actor about the return of the Parthenon Marbles.

This article looks at whether such an initiative would succeed today. I have to say, that I don’t entirely agree with their conclusions though, as the actions depicted within the film took place largely outside of any existing legal frameworks. This said though, I still struggle to see why Britain refuses to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention on the protection of artefacts during armed conflicts.

Damaged Shiite Mosque outside Samarra, Iraq, 2006

Damaged Shiite Mosque outside Samarra, Iraq, 2006

From:
The Conversation

28 February 2014, 6.04am GMT
British government thwarts modern day Monuments Men

We study the past to understand the present and to help shape the future. A society without a memory is a dysfunctional society. And much of a society’s memory is encapsulated within its cultural property – the physical remains of the past – its books, archives, art, historic buildings and landscapes, and its archaeological sites. Lose that cultural property and you are very close to losing collective memory.

George Clooney stars in and directed The Monuments Men. Critical consensus agrees that it is not a very good film, but it does raise a very important and contemporary topic – the protection of cultural property during conflict.
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November 16, 2012

New organisation formed to fight illicit trade in antiquities

Posted at 8:40 am in Similar cases

Many of the cases of illegally trafficked antiquities occur across the borders of multiple countries. To unravel these cases, often requires the cooperation of various different national police forces. A new body intends to make this easier, encouraging cooperation between the law enforcement agencies, Interpol & UNESCO amongst others.

From:
NBC News

14th November 2012
New ‘intelligence’ body set to fight illicit trade in world’s priceless treasures
By Ian Johnston, NBC News

LONDON — Ancient statues from Nigeria and Cambodia, colorful cloaks from Peru, ceremonial furniture from Haiti before Columbus and clay tablets inscribed with writing thousands of years old: The illegal trade in looted cultural artifacts is vast, poorly policed and highly profitable.

But NBC News has learned that a new international body to gather “intelligence” about the illicit sale of some of the world’s most beautiful and historic objects is set to be established.
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June 7, 2012

The importance of strategic protection of cultural artefacts in times of unrest

Posted at 1:45 pm in Similar cases

Could proactive protection of cultural property in regions of unrest be used by the USA as an opportunity for political diplomacy? Initially, after the invasion of Iraq led by the USA, little was done to protect many of the country’s treasures being looted by opportunist thieves – but, perhaps if more had been done to protect the historic sites & ancient artefacts, Iraqi citizens would have been more confident of the US military’s role as one of protectors rather than invaders?

From:
Chicago Tribune

Repatriating part of Saddam statue could promote democracy
U.S. should consider strategic protection of cultural artifacts
By Erik Nemeth
June 7, 2012

A few months ago a former British soldier made headlines for trying to sell part of the backside of the Saddam Hussein statue that was famously toppled in 2003. Though Saddam was long gone, the Iraqi government, happy to be rid of him, requested the return of the “artifact.” Their interest in repatriating a symbol of their “dictator in hindsight” illustrates the unforeseeable significance of cultural property in foreign relations.

The example suggests that the U.S. might consider proactive protection of cultural property in regions of conflict as an underutilized opportunity for political diplomacy, if not outright negotiation.
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Court orders Flamenbaum family to return Nazi looted artefacts to museum

Posted at 1:27 pm in Similar cases

Some sources have described this situation as restitution in reverse – but it is really only reversed, in terms of the fact that the party the artefact was taken from is a museum & the party that now holds it is an individual. The ruling does nothing to reverse the logical outcome – that the party holding onto the looted artefact is instructed to hand it back to the original owner.

From:
New York Times

Nazi Victim’s Family Told to Return Artifact
By PATRICIA COHEN
Published: June 1, 2012

The decision turns on its head the familiar scenario of Holocaust victims suing to reclaim property stolen or extorted from them by the Nazis. But in this case, according to court papers, the precious 3,200-year-old Assyrian artifact had been looted, not from the survivor, but from the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin, at the close of World War II.

It is not clear how the survivor, Riven Flamenbaum, came into possession of the tablet after his liberation from Auschwitz in 1945, when he was sent to a displaced persons camp in southeastern Germany.
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April 25, 2012

Egyptian antiquities smuggler Mousa Khouli pleads guilty

Posted at 1:04 pm in Similar cases

The trial of a smuggler of looted Egyptian antiquities is currently ongoing in the USA. Once again, it is great to see real action being taken in such cases, but it serves to highlight the oddity of how artefacts taken using similar means, not that many years ago, are legitimately on display in many museums, with little fear of any sort of legal comeback.

You can read a more in-depth analysis of this case here.

From:
Independent Online

SA Time: 25 April 2012 15:01:30
Dealer admits smuggling Egyptian treasures
April 19 2012 at 12:21pm

New York – An antiques dealer pleaded guilty on Wednesday to smuggling ancient Egyptian treasures, including a coffin, to the United States.

Mousa Khouli, also known as Morris Khouli, aged 38, faces up to 20 years of prison for “smuggling Egyptian cultural property into the United States and making a false statement to law enforcement authorities,” the federal prosecutor’s office in New York said.
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March 30, 2012

Why Britain should back the world ban on artefact looting

Posted at 1:47 pm in Similar cases

For reasons that are unclear to me, Britain has never ratified the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. This is despite declaring in 2004 that they would ratify the convention. The only reason I have ever been given was that it conflicted in some places with existing laws in Britain, that would need to be amended first.

From:
Independent

Letters: Back the world ban on looting
Friday 30 March 2012

The March 2003 invasion of Iraq by a coalition led by the US and the UK failed to prevent the immediate and appalling looting of museums, libraries, archives and art galleries, followed by years of looting of archaeological sites across the country.

On 14 May 2004, the UK Government announced its intention to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and its protocols of 1954 and 1999. Today, on the ninth anniversary of the invasion, it has still to honour this commitment. This is despite all-party support for ratification and recently reiterated support for ratification from the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The USA ratified the Convention in 2009. This leaves the UK as arguably the most significant military power, and certainly the only power with extensive military involvements abroad, not to have ratified it.
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