By Tom Westcott.
London, 29 August:
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, has demanded an immediate end to the destruction of Sufi . . .[restrict]Shrines in Zlitan, Mistrata and Tripoli.
In a statement released yesterday, Bokova said: “Destroying places of religious and cultural significance cannot be tolerated.” The UNESCO Director continued: “I am deeply concerned about these brutal attacks on places of cultural and religious significance. Such acts must be halted, if Libyan society is to complete its transition to democracy. For this, we need dialogue and mutual respect.”
Bokova welcomed the government’s clear condemnation of the attacks but called upon all Libyan authorities to exercise their responsibility to protect the country’s cultural heritage, preserving this for future generations.
She said: “Libya’s future prospects depend on its inhabitants’ ability to build a participatory democracy, that respects the rights and the heritage of all its citizens.”
In a statement released earlier this year, Bokova had said that “during the past year, Libyans have shown their unfailing commitment to the protection of their cultural heritage, demonstrating that such heritage cannot be held hostage to local or international dissent and conflict.”
Unfortunately, as Lawyers for Justice in Libya have observed, more damage has been done to the country’s heritage in the past few days than during the whole six months of armed conflict.
Bokova has indicated that UNESCO stands ready to provide assistance to protect and rehabilitate these recently-damaged sites.
The irony is that only at the start of this month an agreement between Libya and UNESCO was signed, launching a programme for the protection of Libya’s cultural heritage sites. [/restrict]