UNESCO chief says Afghan Buddhas cannot be restored
PARIS: The giant Buddhas of Bamiyan destroyed by Afghanistan's ruling Taliban cannot be restored, UNESCO director Koichiro Matsuura told a press conference here on Tuesday.
Restoration is impossible because the statues, which were not carved out of hard stone, have been reduced to sandy rubble, explained Mounir Bouchenaki, another UNESCO official, at the conference.
Responding to a proposal by the Sri Lankan government to buy the rubble, Matsuura said the idea would be examined in the future but he had no clear answer to give.
A private Sri Lankan Buddhist organisation earlier put forward another proposal, to build a scaled down replica of the Buddhas at its Colombo premises.
The Maha Bodhi Society said it was seeking detailed drawings from archaeological experts in India and Pakistan to carry out the work.
Pierre Lafrance, UNESCO special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, said at the same press conference that several proposals had already been submitted to the Taliban.
Back from a recent stay in Kabul, Lafrance said the Taliban had received "financial proposals to buy the statues, offers to build a wall in front of the statues in order to hide them, or to take them apart."
Matsuura said that UNESCO would do its utmost to prevent other cultural riches that may remain in Afghanistan from being destroyed, pointing out that the country has a rich archaeological heritage. (AFP)
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