Mali: Preserving common heritage

The Islamist fighters who launched an attack on the south of Mali in January had already been destroying patrimony in the north of the country for seven months. Gone in a puff of smoke are unique manuscripts dating from the thirteenth century, witness of priceless scientific knowledge.

Gone in a puff of smoke - thousands of priceless manuscripts dating from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries covering subjects such as religious studies, science, astronomy, mathematics, architecture and medicine, music, poetry, literature, children's rights and women's rights. These manuscripts were looted from a library in the historic city of Timbuktu by Islamist extremists who had infiltrated some of the groups of Tuareg and other militants fighting Government forces from southern Mali.

By the time the Government of Mali had called upon French forces for help in January after the rebel forces from the north broke through to positions dangerously near the capital, Bamako, the Islamist elements, some with links to Al-Qaeda, had been destroying patrimony for seven months in the north.

In July 2012, the Mausoleums of Sidi Mahmoud, Sidi Mokhtar and Alpha Moya were destroyed in Timbuktu, the intellectual and spiritual capital for the propagation of Islam through northern Africa in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Added to these were the Mausoleums of the Al Hassan and Al Houseyni twins, destroyed on December 23, 2012.

The patrimony lost has been described by UNESCO as being "inestimable treasures". UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has declared that "At this moment, we must act quickly to safeguard and rebuild this country's outstanding cultural heritage - this is essential for national unity and reconciliation," adding that "This heritage is a source of strength and confidence for the people of Mali as they consolidate the foundations of peace."

The fighting in Mali was exacerbated by the arrival of heavily-armed Tuareg groups from the Libyan conflict, where they had stood alongside the Libyan Armed Forces against terrorist elements supported by NATO, but also by drought and other long-standing regional and local conflicts.

Interesting that the FUKUS-Axis only now takes any action to safeguard a government which sits upon a fortune in mineral resources. Where were they when the cultural heritage of humankind was being destroyed? Right, nowhere.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey



Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey