UNESCO condemns action, referring to "war crimes"
"ISIS is destroying our history and killing our present."
That was the sad response to the latest propaganda video from the Islamic State group, which shows destruction of yet more archeological treasures documenting the rich history of the Assyrian people.
The scene is the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud.
"Are the international community, civilized world and states feeling and practicing their moral and material commitment to keep a future for our people?" commented Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana, director of CAPNI, the Christian Aid Program of Northern Iraq.
The video shows henchmen of the Islamic State, their faces blurred out, taking sledgehammers and jackhammers to monuments and bas reliefs from thousands of years ago. Large chunks of stone artifacts that have survived millennia are transported via bulldozer to a trash heap. Men are shown inside a museum filling barrels with gunpowder and wiring them together. The video ends with three scenes of massive explosions reducing the museum and, apparently, other archeological sites, to rubble.
The jihadists, who consider such objects idolatrous, are also seen at the beginning of the video toppling a cross from a church.
The site, near Mosul, is on the list of UNESCO cultural sites. The UN agency responsible for protecting such sites denounced the destruction Monday, saying the video shows the "total destruction of the north-west part of the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II, along with stone sculptures from the neo-Assyrian era…. The Palace was built dated back to 879 B.C when Nimrud, then known as Kalhu, served as the capital of the Assyrian Empire."
“I condemn this mad, destructive act that accentuates the horror of the situation," said UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova. "It confirms that the terrorists are not only destroying representations of figures and bas-reliefs. With their hammers and explosives they are also obliterating the site itself, clearly determined to wipe out all traces of the history of Iraq’s people.
“The deliberate destruction of heritage is a war crime,” Bokova said. “We will do everything possible to fight against this and document it, to ensure that those responsible are identified and brought to justice.
UNESCO said it is "working closely with the Government of Iraq, neighboring states and the full range of its other partners, to safeguard this millennial heritage.