Iraq embraces some of oldest and most significant archaeological and cultural sites in the world. Iraq has three UNESCO World Heritage sites and twelve tentative World Heritage sites which can be seen on our website http://www.iraqheritage.org.
Iraq’s museums, with special focus on Baghdad and Mosul, are repositories for countless irreplaceable artifacts that record Iraq’s unique legacy. Iraq Heritage is appalled by the great suffering and loss of life in the current fighting in Iraq and expresses great concern about the safety of Iraq’s invaluable cultural and historical heritage. Our mission is to work to protect the world’s cultural heritage threatened by armed conflict, natural and human-made
The ruins of the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh lie in the northern suburbs of the embattled city of Mosul. To the south of Mosul are the ruins of Hatra, a World Heritage site. These sites are under great threat as we can confirm government control has been lost in these areas.
In 2010, the site was put on a list of endangered cultural heritage sites by the Global Heritage Fund due to looting and insufficient government management. With the falling of Saddam and his regime in 2003 Iraq Suffered looters who carried off thousands of priceless cuneiform tablets, sculptures, bronze tablets, books and other items from both the National Museum in Baghdad and Mosul’s Archaeological Museum.
According to the Global Heritage Fund’s 2010 report, “Saving Our Vanishing Heritage,” the worldwide trade in stolen antiquities is estimated to be in the billions of dollars, but local thieves receive only a small fraction of the stolen artifact’s worth. Most often, the stolen items end up in collections in Europe, North America and Japan. In 2008, Iraqi Security Forces raided a house in Basra and recovered 228 ancient Mesopotamian artifacts that had been plundered from archaeological sites and museums throughout the country. They had been operating on a tip that important Iraqi monuments were going to be smuggled from the country and enter the black market in order to fund insurgent groups. The objects have since been returned safely to the Iraqi National Museum. Despite these small successes, thousands of Iraqi cultural artifacts are still missing. Many of them can be viewed on Interpol’s database of stolen works of art, which tracks art and cultural heritage thefts worldwide.
Iraq Heritage is extremely maddened at the looting that threatens the ruins of our beloved Hatra and many other sites. The actions of looters in Iraq during the war forced the United Nations to include a provision to UN Resolution 1483 (2003) calling on all member states to facilitate the return of Iraqi cultural artifacts that were illegally removed. With the loss of government control in the region by the ISIS insurgents, Iraq’s cultural heritage sites in northern Iraq are officially threatened again.
Iraq Heritage urges all armed combatants to observe the international laws that protect cultural heritage and to act responsibly, safeguarding the testimony of Iraq’s unique history for the enrichment of future generations. Looting has hounded archaeological sites and emptied our museum over the past 11 years and now we are at the risk of loosing everything.
In the event of international military action Iraq Heritage urges the international community to help Iraq fulfill its obligations to this Convention and also urges all parties to the conflict to abide by Iraq’s Antiquities Law, Law Number 55 of 2002.Also the 1972 UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage; the additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions. We would also like to thank the Blue shield for their great efforts in helping Iraq In these difficult times.
Executive Director and Founder of Iraq Heritage
Header Image Source: Flikr
Contribution Source: Iraq Heritage
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