UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova today expressed her distress and dismay over the destruction of three sacred tombs that are part of a World Heritage site in Timbuktu, Mali. Ms Bokova called on the belligerents to cease the destruction immediately.
“Reports that the Mausoleums of Sidi Mahmoud, Sidi Moctar and Alpha Moya have been destroyed is extremely distressing,” the Director-General said. “There is no justification for such wanton destruction and I call on all parties engaged in the conflict to stop these terrible and irreversible acts, to exercise their responsibility and protect this invaluable cultural heritage for future generations.
The Director-General, has repeatedly urged international cooperation to protect the sites which bear witness to the golden age of Timbuktu in the 16th century and to a history that stretches even further back to the 5th century of the Hegira.
Earlier today, the Chairperson of the Committee, Eleonora Mitrofanova (Russian Federation) described the destruction of the three tombs as “tragic news for us all and, even more so for the inhabitants of Timbuktu who have cherished and preserved this monument over more than seven centuries.”
On Thursday, 28 June, the World Heritage Committee, meeting in St. Petersburg, accepted the request of the government of Mali to place Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger.