- Security Council slams Buddha destruction
UNITED NATIONS (March 8): The UN Security Council condemned the
order by Afghanistan's ruling Taliban to destroy pre-Islamic relics as an
"incomprensible and wanton" act of violence against the country's cultural
Council members on Tuesday joined other UN bodies, governments,
religious and cultural organizations in urging the Taliban to halt the destruction of an
important part "of the world's cultural treasure."
Ukraine's acting UN ambassador Valeri Kuchynski, who read the council
statement, said the latest information the council had was that "the Taliban
authorities started the preparation for the destruction but we have not received the
actual confirmation that the destruction took place."
Efforts are being made to prevent the destruction of the non-Islamic
shrines and artifacts, he told reporters. Philippe de Montebello, director of the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, has been in contact with the Taliban through an
intermediary in Afghanistan trying to negotiate the possibility of moving the biggest and
most important Buddha statues to other places
at the museum's expense, Kuchynski said.
But the Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, reiterated
Tuesday that the Feb. 26 order by the leader of the Islamic religious militia, Mullah
Mohammed Omar, to destroy all statues in the country as idolatrous will be carried out
despite the international outcry.
The Security Council statement also expressed "grave concern"
at the famine and continued suffering of the Afghan people, who are facing the worst
drought in a generation. Council members deplored the civil war "and the absence of
effective government that might address this humanitarian disaster."
"The factions' continuing fighting while the Afghan people suffer
demonstrates a profound lack of concern for the very people in whose name they
fight," the council said.