Taleban 'destroy' priceless art
By Kate Clark in Kabul - BBC
Reports in Kabul say senior Taleban have destroyed more than a dozen ancient statues in the National Museum of Afghanistan.
The Taleban minister of information and culture has denied the reports but has refused to allow journalists to enter the museum to check them.
The museum lost most of its objects during the civil war. But several pieces of world importance remained, including one Buddhist statue which experts say is priceless.
Reports started to circulate last week that the Taleban were destroyed non-Islamic artefacts in the museum, including statues of the Buddha dating back nearly 2,000 years.
The Taleban have denied the reports, but have prevented anyone going to the museum to check on the artefacts. The head and deputy head of the museum were both out of the country last week when the alleged destruction occurred.
The museum has been closed to the public since the mid-1990s when most of the collection was looted by armed groups.
The on-going war has left only fragments and artefacts which were too heavy to steal.
These included Buddhist statues and bowls, ancient Hindu pieces, as well as Islamic relics - all precious evidence of Afghanistan's rich cultural past. Now it seems even pieces from this tiny remnant of the collection have been destroyed.
Islam wiped out Buddhism in Afghanistan 1,400 years ago.
But the presence of ancient Buddhist statues from the smallest miniature to the 50 metre-high Buddhist carved into a cliff face in the town of Bamiyan have posed problems for the Taleban.
With their ultra-conservative Islamic ideology, they believe a depiction of any human being is blasphemous. They also think, mistakenly, that Buddhists worship the Buddha and that the statues are therefore idols.
The Taleban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, had ruled that the statues could be preserved so long as they were not worshipped.
But concern has persisted that a specially zealous Taleban could seek to destroy them.
There is particular worry now over one Buddhist statue, which was found in Kabul.
It is an exquisite one metre-high carving which is thought to be unique.
Experts say it is impossible to put a value on it.
*** AAR Editors' Note: Another crime against humanity. Another crime against Afghanistan, its people, history and the ancient cultures it represents. This crime, like the human massacres and purges committed by the Taliban fanatics and their foreign terrorist supporters, cannot be ignored. Whatever Taliban apologists may claim, the destruction of Afghanistan's heritage has nothing to do with Islam - at least mainstream and tolerant Islam - and is an overt anti-Afghan act by a puppet regime run by fanatic narco-terrorist thugs.
This is not new. The warning signs were visible since the early 1990s when other extremist groups and global traffickers of artifacts plundered Kabul museum and other archeological sites. It is widely reported that some of the most priceless artifacts belonging to Afghanistan were acquired by Pakistani leaders - including former interior minister Nasirullah Babar, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and unknown ISI/military generals - even some Afghan factional leaders, and the phalanx of global traffickers and collectors.
It is time for the UNESCO, other world bodies and an international legal or tribunal body to look into this grave matter and add this travesty to the list of Taliban crimes that need immediate investigation and prosecution.
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