الرئيسية / English / Presentation by H.B. Patriarch Louis Sako at “The International Conference for the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Conflict Areas” Abu Dhabi / The Arab United Emirates

Presentation by H.B. Patriarch Louis Sako at “The International Conference for the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Conflict Areas” Abu Dhabi / The Arab United Emirates


Iraq, the ancient Mesopotamia, was the cradle of civilizations: Starting from Sumerian, Acadian, Babylonian, Chaldean, Assyrian, Persian, Jewish, Christian, and Arab Muslim. All together forming a national and international treasure.
There are many archeological sites and many old churches and monasteries everywhere in Iraq, because Christians were the majority there before the arrival of Arab Muslims in the 7th century.
 
The escalation of religious and ethnic conflict across the region demonstrates the urgent need for action on the part of the international community to protect and preserve this Cultural Heritage.
Looting of hundreds of priceless artifacts from the Iraqi National Museum followed the US invasion of Baghdad in 2003, and the Mosul Museum in mid-2014 by Islamic State extremists is a big loss. Isis jihadists started a real rampage to erase everything that pre-dated the Islamic era and does not fit with their ideology.
Due to the destruction of Nabi Younis, Nabi Jarjees mosques, as well as the most significant ancient sites, like Nimrud and Hatra (Hadhar), in addition to burning hundreds of manuscripts at many other churches and monasteries, the international community should engage the Iraqi government and other governments in the region to ensure the preservation and protection of this multi-millennial patrimony and its restoration with a well-trained team.
 
However, as an encouraging sign. Father Najib Mussa, a Dominican Father, who founded the "Centre numérique des Manuscrits Orientaux" in Mosul in 1990 has started documenting manuscripts of churches and monasteries, filming 7500 manuscripts and restoring some damaged ones. CDs and catalogues are available in the Dominican center in Erbil.
We also hope that these ancient sites, old churches, monasteries, and mosques would be slowly rebuilt in the right way.

 Nowadays, the situation is still unsecure and even when Isis is defeated, its ideology will continue generating new kind of conflicts. Therefore I would like to propose the following practical and urgent projects.
1. To create a safe haven for the preservation and the storage of the endangered cultural heritage, with the agreement (convention), of the Iraqi government or at least to establish a monitoring office of UN to oversee it.
2. To bring experts for training Iraqi teams on how to deal with this cultural heritage that has been here for thousands of years. How to document. protect and restore manuscripts, historical sites, old objects, churches, monasteries, synagogues, mosques in a right way.
3. To equip these Iraqi teams with modern and sophisticated tools to carry out such a skillful task.

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