A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden
Everyone is responsible.
What did UNESCO do ? Nothing. Total irresponsibility : no vision, no action.
(Already in Afghanistan, three years before the destruction of the Museum, Cultural authorities in Kabul made a request, through the French Embassy in Pakistan, for the removal of the Museum’s collections to a third country for safe keeping. UNESCO refused to even consider the request. And when they were about to do something, the Museum had just been destroyed.)
All the looting was by unarmed groups save for the banks.
What did the IRAQIS do ? The staff of the Museum tried to protect the collections; but, it would seem that the looting was carried out by Iraqis.
Information regarding the extent of the destructions is still far from sufficiently accurate to enable a valid assessment.
What did the US do ? Neglected their responsibilities as invading "liberators".
Did not protect from looting the hospitals and the Museum, did not prevent the burning of the National Library or come to put out the fire when they were less than five minutes away, while tanks protected the Petroleum Ministry.
All that was needed was one US tank in the front of the Museum entrance or a couple of US soldiers.
Since, for all intents and purposes the fighting was over.
Conclusion : Those in authority, whether UNESCO, the source countries or the POWERS of Western nations, love not and in reality care little for the common cultural heritage of us all.
Dissemination saves, as it allows works of art to survive the instability inherent in our planet such as natural cataclysms, wars and revolutions.
Unesco with its 1970 Convention and Unidroit Conventions preaches Retentionism, the concept of national patrimony over considerations of conservation, truth and access. Everything stays in the country of origin, export is illicit and equated with theft. Accuse collectors and the market as responsible for destruction, illicit digging and theft.
The reality is that the above position is ideological and citizens of our countries are disinformed.
The reality is what took place in Baghdad. The looting was mostly destruction and melting precious metals."
25 April 2003
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