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Security Council criticizes Taliban decree
UN Security Council on 6 March joined other UN agencies, governments and
religious and cultural organizations in condemning the decision by
Afghanistan's Taliban regime to destroy pre-Islamic relics.
The council called the action an "incomprehensible and wanton"
act of violence against cultural heritage in the country, and urged the
Taliban to end the destruction of what it called an important part
"of the world's cultural treasure".
Taliban envoy Abdul Salam Zaeef has suggested that there is still a chance
to save some of the statues if either allies of the regime or Muslim
scholars issue an appeal for the destruction to stop. The Taliban claims
to have temporarily halted shelling of famous Buddha statues in honor of a
Zaeef said on 7 March the giant statues have not been completely razed
yet. "Twenty-five percent of the two huge statues in Bamiyan has been
destroyed," he said. "I am not hopeful and not disappointed
about these statues, whether the destruction will be stopped or will
continue, but maybe, if there is a message from religious scholars of the
Arab world, it may help".
UNESCO urged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to intervene and make an
attempt to persuade the Taliban leaders not to destroy the Buddhist
statues . Sri Lanka, on the other hand has offered to finance a possible
international operation to rescue the statues.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has denounced the Taliban for its
actions, saying that Cambodia "strongly condemns the destruction of
cultural heritage belonging to any nations and religion.’
UN special envoy to Afghanistan Pierre Lafrance reportedly said on 7 March
that there is little hope of persuading the Taliban to preserve the
country's statues, since the militia has shown little interest in
reversing its decree. Lafrance did say, however, that "very
reliable" sources had indicated that the famous Buddha statues were
not damaged to the extent Taliban leaders have claimed. q