SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPRESSES ALARM CONCERNING TALIBAN EDICT ORDERING DESTRUCTION OF STATUES
NEW YORK, 27 February (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
The Secretary-General has learned with alarm of the edict issued yesterday by the Taliban supreme leader ordering the destruction of all statues and non-Islamic shrines in the country. This follows reports of the recent destruction of a number of precious items in the National Museum of Kabul.
The General Assembly has repeatedly called on all Afghan parties to protect the cultural and historic relics and monuments of Afghanistan which are part of the common heritage of mankind. The Secretary-General appeals to the Taliban leadership to abide by their previous commitments to protect Afghanistan’s cultural heritage in general, and the two great Buddhist sculptures in Bamiyan in particular.
The Secretary-General urges the Taliban to do all in their power to preserve the unique and irreplaceable relics of Afghanistan’s rich heritage -- both Islamic and pre-Islamic -- as the strongest foundation for a better, more peaceful and more tolerant future for all its people. Destroying any relic, any monument, any statue will only prolong the climate of conflict. After 22 years of war, destruction and drought, there can only be one priority for the Government: to rebuild the country, to renew the fabric of society and to relieve the immense suffering and deprivation of the people of Afghanistan.
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