The Art Newspaper | Robert Bevan:
Robert Bevan calls for the protection of the ‘shrines of the soul’
The world watched in open-mouthed disbelief last month when the Iraqi government reported that Islamic State had bulldozed the ancient Assyrian site of Nimrud and the 2,000-year-old remains of Hatra, both in Iraq.
Image grab from a video reportedly released by IS, showing the supposed destruction of a statue of an Assyrian diety in Nineveh. © ABACA/Press Association Images. Photo by Balkis Press
The destruction was fuelled not only by religious doctrine and propaganda, but should be seen as part of the terrorists’ sustained attempts to wipe out the history of the ethnic groups in the territories they control.
The action was described by Unesco as a war crime. In a statement, the organisation’s director general, Irina Bokova, said: “Nothing is safe fr om the cultural cleansing under way in [Iraq]: it targets human lives, minorities, and is marked by the systematic destruction of humanity’s ancient heritage.”
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