In the past weeks, the international community has watched with growing concern the events unfolding across Afghanistan. Cultural organizations and institutions from all over the world are especially alarmed by the threats faced by the civilian population, and the men and women of Afghanistan who dedicate their lives to protecting the rich and diverse cultural heritage of this nation.
The country and its rich and diverse cultural heritage is once again facing the threat of looting and illegal traffic. In situations such as these, there is no specific item that is at risk. Vandals and thieves will profit of the instability in Afghanistan to steal or destroy cultural heritage for a variety of reasons, including personal gain or political motivation. To protect it, we need to work together.
In 2006, ICOM
published a Red List of Afghan of cultural objects and art pieces
that are particularly vulnerable, from Buddhist statues and paintings to Islamic manuscripts. The Red Lists which ICOM publish for many other regions of the world include images provided by museums to illustrate the objects.
Follow the Twitter thread for more information about the respective objects by clicking on the bird.
They are used by the police, customs officers, auction houses, museums, and citizens to identify these objects and prevent their commercialization in the black market. In particular, the Red List for Afghanistan helped identify, recover, and return 1,500 pieces to the National Museum in Kabul. The current situation in Afghanistan might undo all this work and further threaten the cultural heritage of the country.
International cooperation is key in the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property, and everyone can play a part in protecting the world’s cultural heritage. Help us spread the word and raise awareness about the threat of illicit trafficking in Afghanistan: share this page with friends and professional contacts to ensure that as many people as possible become familiar with the categories of Afghan cultural objects at risk.
An initiative by ICOM International and Wikimedia CH