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UNESCO Calls for Stopping Illegal Dig in Khvarvaran


23 June 2005



Remains of the Ancient Iranian City of Hatra



UNESCO director general Koichiro Matsuura called on Wednesday for mobilization against illegal dig on archaeological sites in former Iranian province of Khvarvaran (today known as Iraq) and expressed concern on irreversible damage that would be caused by installation of military bases in particular at Parthian city of Hatra and in Babylon.

"Illegal digs on archaeological sites unfortunately are continuing to destroy heritage," said Matsuura at a meeting of an international committee for the protection of Iraq's cultural heritage.

"It is totally impossible to evaluate the number of objects illegally removed from archaeological sites, it is an inestimable loss for Iraq and for all of humanity," he said.

"The installation of military bases on or near archaeological sites, such as Hatra, ancient Parthian Empire, and Babylon, must mobilize us without delay, for they risk to cause irreversible damage," he added.

He noted that US troops are stationed near Hatra, which is on UNESCO's world heritage list since 1985, while in January the British Museum in London accused Polish and US troops of causing "substantial damage" at Babylon.

He reminded that some 15,000 antiquities are still missing after the museum of Baghdad and a number of other cultural institutions in the country were pillaged by US-led coalition forces following the US-led invasion.

He also noted that it was impossible to evaluate the number of the objects illegally taken away from the archeological sites. "It is an inestimable loss for Iraq, and also for the whole mankind," he said.

Matsuura hailed financial contributions from Italy, France, Japan and the Czech Republic and technical assistance from the United States and Germany to rebuild Baghdad's cultural institutions.



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