Friday, May 22, 2015

World heritage site Palmyra ruins threatened by ISIS

There are many, many reasons to detest the Islamic fundamentalists, the Taliban and the Islamic State (ISIS): political executions, kidnappings, rape, beheadings, extortion, and destruction of historical sites and artifacts. Now ISIS has captured the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria and officials concerned with preservation of such sites are justifiably concerned. The NY Times has the story. The text centers on reports of the battle and plight of the residents. But there are some stunning photos of the ruins at the head of the report and a short video of a plea for cease fire and protection of the ruins by a Unesco leader.

The Daily Star has a good summary about the history of Palmyra and its status as a world heritage site. The story also recaps how ISIS destroyed antiquities in Iraq.

If you can find the video of Rachel Maddow's report on Palmyra from last night's show, you should spend 10 minutes watching - it's really good (but I could not get it downloaded on my iPad - sorry). She also shows clips of men with sledge hammers destroying statues in Iraq under the supervision of a black-clad, armed ISIS soldier.

Scriber thinks ISIS can act with impunity in Palmyra and is likely to destroy the ruins. Ironically, they might do so with captured US tanks. (Remember how the Taliban shelled the statues of Buddha in Afghanistan? Think about the very possible fate of Palmyra on a much larger scale.)

Here are the "fears" about Palmyra (from the Star article).

Following Palmyra's capture by Islamic State militants, many fear the extremists will destroy the archaeological site as they did other ancient ruins in neighboring Iraq.

In March, IS members razed the ancient cities of Nimrod and Hatra in Iraq — both UNESCO world heritage sites. The move was described by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon as a "war crime."

The militants have released videos in recent months showing fighters proudly destroying artifacts with hammers and drills in a museum in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and using explosives to wreck other sites.

The Sunni extremists, who have imposed a violent interpretation of Shariah law in the territories they control in Syria and Iraq, believe ancient relics promote idolatry.

Since capturing Palmyra and its archaeological treasures, IS has not said what it plans to do with them.

You see why I am pessimistic?

No comments:

Post a Comment