Bamiyan Buddhas: IHEU Statement to UNESCO

  • Date / 5 March 2001


5 March 2001

The IHEU, NGO maintaining operational relations with UNESCO, would like to sign the international petition for the rescue of afghan cultural heritage.

We would like to extend our complete support to the initiatives undertaken by UNESCO through the agency of Pierre Lafrance, and also for UNESCO’s efforts at mobilising the international community to save the giant Buddhas at Bamiyan which are our common cultutral heritage. We emphatically ask UNESCO to ask for a general condemnation of Kaboul’s regime by all Nation-States, specially by arab and islamic states, namely Pakistan. The speech by M. Matsuura, Secretary General of UNESCO, during the colloquium on ‘Central Asian Heritage’ when he addressed ambassadors from 54 countries of the Organisations of Islamic Conference indicates UNESCO’s committment to such an action.

The notion of a common cultural heritage transcends religions, and it is humanity’s cultural heritage that the Taliban is attacking. As a humanist organisation, the IHEU cannot but be concerned and shocked by this insensible decision to destroy these giant witnesses to our common past. The edict from Mullah Mohammad Omar is not just a decision originating from religious fundamentalists in the name of their fundamentalist truths: it is part of a political strategy where the international community is a lever towards recognition of the legitimacy of the Taliban. During its initiatives and negotiations we would therefore ask UNESCO to be conscious of the spectre of what an Afghanistan delivered into the hands of the Taliban would be. Silence on the situation of the Afghan people, and on the status of women who are on the firing line in the permanent violations of human rights taking place in the country can in no case be a negotiating point in return for saving our Buddhas.

Monique WONNER

Head, IHEU Delegation at UNESCO, Paris.

Union Internationale Humaniste et La�que

International Humanist and Ethical Union

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