Historical Monuments in Afghanistan Will Be Taken Under State's Protection

Head of the Afghan interim government Hamid Karzai issued a decree on protecting historical and archeological monuments and other cultural treasures in Afghanistan.

The decree became necessary in order to protect the cultural treasures from illegal "archeologists" and to stop the flow of historical rarities abroad. The decree, issued on Thursday, orders the Ministry of Information and Culture, the Interior Ministry and other power structures around the country to take necessary measures to stop the illegal excavations. Special attention is to be paid to the Kapisa province (150 kilometers southeast of Kabul, bordering with Pakistan), which is well known for its archaeological monuments.

The president appealed to all Afghani citizens to assist the authorities in protecting national historical treasures. He ordered the Ministry of the Interior to put security guards around the most important monuments.

During more than two decades of a bloody civil war, historical monuments and tombs were mercilessly plundered. Many antiques were smuggled abroad and sold to private collectors.

Fundamentalist fanatics from Islamic Taliban, which ruled the country for six years, despite the protests of the world community, utterly destroyed in 2001 what they called "idols" - statues and other monuments of pre-Islamic epoch. In particular, they demolished a beautiful monument that belonged to that period - a complex of Buddhist shrines in caves located in the Bamian river valley in Central Afghanistan. The complex was built during first 5-6 centuries AD by the Kushan kingdom, when Buddhism was a predominant religion. Two unique giant statues of Buddha (53 and 37 meters high) located in deep niches carved in rocks in Bamian complex were blown up, as well. They were considered cultural treasures of the world.

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