Showing posts with label Heritage Destruction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Heritage Destruction. Show all posts

November 22, 2016

Targeting History and Memory: A new website explores the prosecution of crimes against cultural and religious property


A new website explores the prosecution of crimes 
against cultural and religious property by the 
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)
By: Helen Walasek

A new resource-rich website exploring the prosecution of crimes against cultural heritage during conflict has just been launched. Targeting History and Memory comprehensively documents for the first time how the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) investigated, reconstructed and prosecuted the intentional destruction of cultural, historical and religious property committed during the Wars of Yugoslav Succession of the 1990s. Targeting History and Memory was produced by SENSE Centre for Transitional Justice, which in its previous incarnation as SENSE News Agency has offered comprehensive and balanced coverage of the work of the ICTY since 1998.

Gjakova Hadum Quran School, Kosovo, 1999
The almost overwhelming number of deliberate attacks on cultural and religious property in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and finally, Kosovo, amounted to the greatest destruction of cultural heritage seen in Europe since World War Two. The devastation – one of the defining features of the conflicts – took place chiefly during violent campaigns of ethnic cleansing, campaigns waged against civilians as an integral part of attempts to carve out ethnically homogenous territories, hoping to obliterate the material evidence of a previous diversity. The damage to Bosnia-Herzegovina’s cultural inheritance was worst, particularly to its Ottoman and Islamic heritage.  

The vast majority of attacks were premeditated, systematic, and took place far from the frontlines. Rarely taking place in isolation, they were almost always accompanied by multiple atrocities and human rights abuses against the groups being targeted for expulsion – a scenario being horrifically enacted today, most visibly in Syria and Iraq.

With its emphasis on justice for victims of human rights abuses and calling to account those who committed, were responsible for, or allowed such abuses to take place, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has played a seminal role in the development of international human rights law – including that relating to cultural heritage. 

The Tribunal demonstrated how closely protection of cultural and religious property is tied up with peoples’ rights to enjoyment of their cultural heritage and how intimately cultural heritage and identity are linked. In case after case it showed how the destruction of structures which symbolised a group’s identity was a manifestation of persecution and crimes against humanity. Yet these prosecutions and their importance of the ICTY’s case law are relatively little known to those in the fields of art crime and heritage protection.

With the ICTY winding down and only the trial of Ratko Mladić to complete before the court closes for good in December 2017, SENSE saw the urgency of ensuring that the Tribunal’s legacy was made permanently and publicly accessible. As SENSE Centre for Transitional Justice it has since produced Srebrenica: Genocide in Eight Acts and Storm in The Hague detailing the controversies raised by the ICTY trials for war crimes committed during Operation Storm in Croatia. Targeting History and Memory, SENSE’s third online narrative, was recently presented in Sarajevo and Zagreb, with an event in Belgrade to follow.

Dubrovnik Old City shelling, 1991
Among the iconic images of attacks on heritage during the Yugoslav conflicts were the 1991 bombardment of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Dubrovnik in Croatia by Yugoslav forces, Sarajevo’s National Library erupting in flames after a barrage of incendiary shells from Bosnian Serb artillery in 1992, and the collapse of the sixteenth century Ottoman Old Bridge at Mostar following persistent shelling by Bosnian Croat forces in 1993.  Shocking as these were, it was in towns and villages across Bosnia-Herzegovina in wide swathes of ethnically-cleansed countryside where, unrecorded by the media, destruction was worst. Yet after the intentional cultural destruction of the 1992–1995 Bosnian War, more was to follow during the 1998–1999 Kosovo War. All these cases are explored on the website.

With its easy access to key texts, reports and documents like evidence exhibits and a comprehensive bibliography (much of it downloadable), and through its rich array of audio-visual material, including archival photos, videos of ICTY trial testimonies and documentary films, Targeting History and Memory must now be the best source of information on the ICTY’s prosecutions of crimes against cultural property. Apart from the plethora of background material, the website has two standout features.

For while celebrating ICTY’s achievements, Targeting History and Memory also offers a critical assessment, uncovering the difficulties in prosecuting crimes against cultural heritage during conflict, , not just at the Tribunal, but at all. The prevailing mindsets of those working in the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), few of whom (or more likely, none) probably had any prior interest or knowledge of prosecuting cultural property crimes are revealed in the videos that introduce each section. It also raises yet again the vexed question of ‘military necessity’ relating to cultural property crimes (though apparently not of proportionality) and a brief glimpse of ICTY prosecutors’ discussions on the subject.

Sarajevo National Library, copyright ICTY
The first video, in particular, with its interviews with current and former ICTY prosecutors reveal their thinking behind prosecutions involving destruction of cultural and religious property. They offer some eye-opening excuses and justifications for removing important attacks from indictments such as the still inexplicable removal of the shelling of the National Library from the indictments against Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić, surely one of the most documented incidents of the Siege of Sarajevo. Notably, the bombardment was listed on indictments not as an attack on a cultural monument, but as a ‘shelling incident’.

Mostar Old Bridge, 8 November 1993
Another interview reveals how close the destruction of the Old Bridge in Mostar – undoubtedly the paradigm for the deliberate attacks on cultural heritage during all the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia – came to not being included at all in the indictments against the military and political leaders of the secessionist Bosnian Croats attempting to create an ethnically homogenous para-state of Herceg-Bosna (Prlić et al). The insertion of the Old Bridge into a clause on the indictments relating to the destruction or wilful damage to institutions ‘dedicated to religion or education’ now seems to have been intentional rather than mistaken. This decision was to seriously hamstring the judges in reaching a guilty verdict for the destruction of the Old Bridge, although they eventually did – albeit with a dissenting opinion from the president of the trial chamber.

Unprosecuted destruction
Jajce-Orthodox Church
The second standout is the website’s Unprosecuted section which outlines in depressing detail the limitations of international justice for prosecuting crimes against cultural property during conflict. While prosecutions were made (and convictions achieved) for the bombardment of Dubrovnik, there have been none for other major attacks on cultural property made during the 1991–1995 Croatian War such as the assaults on numerous historic monuments in Vukovar with its many Baroque buildings, nor in Bosnia-Herzegovina, for instance, for the destruction of all types of cultural property at the ancient city of Jajce, from mosques and historic Muslim neighbourhoods to Orthodox and Catholic churches.

Ahmici Mosque, Bosnia 1993

And the ICTY has yet to explain why all fifteen mosques totally and intentionally destroyed in Banja Luka appeared on its 1995 joint indictment in of Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić, but were completely removed from final indictments. Thus, no-one will have been prosecuted at all for the destruction of the sixteen-century Ferhadija Mosque which reopened in 2016, 23 years after it was blown up in May 1993.


                                                           ENDS

Targeting History and Memory: The ICTY and the investigation, reconstruction and prosecution of crimes against cultural and religious heritage
http://heritage.sense-agency.com/


The author of this blog post advised on and wrote the introduction to Targeting History and Memory.

February 22, 2016


SAT 27 FEB, 2016

Symposium on Art and Terrorism
The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London

Saturday 27 February 2016 - 10:00 am - 6:30 pm
Registration from 09.30
Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre,
The Courtauld Institute of Art,
Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN

Organised by

Professor Julian Stallabrass: The Courtauld Institute of Art
Dr Anna Marazuela Kim: The Courtauld Institute of Art
Dr Noah Charney: ARCA, Association for Research into Crimes against Art
Lynda Albertson: ARCA, Association for Research into Crimes against Art



Bringing together scholars of the image, art and violence with experts on counter-terrorism and conflict antiquities, the Courtauld Institute of Art and the Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA) present a day-long symposium on the subject of Art and Terrorism. The collaborative event aims to provide a forum for engaging issues of urgent and wider public concern.

Two strands of inquiry inform our discussion. One concerns histories and theories of war and images, including terrorist use of visual images and media, such as YouTube videos and the documented destruction of cultural monuments. The other takes a criminological approach, examining the use and abuse of art and antiquities by terrorist groups, including ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the IRA.

The event inaugurates a new initiative, Courtauld Debates, that brings the significance of art history to a wider audience through public facing dialogue. It also highlights a new collection of essays, Art Crime: Terrorists, Tomb Raiders, Forgers and Thieves (Palgrave), which features numerous expert speakers on this important and timely subject.

The day's talks will include the UK's first screening of الزلزلة (The Quake), a musical and video collaboration between Oscar-winning composer Ennio Morricone and filmmaker Matteo Barzini and produced by Feel Film Production in collaboration with UNESCO. 

The film narrates the tragedies of the Syrian war creating an analogy between the destruction of human life and cultural heritage. Images of prewar Syria alternate with the devastation of minarets, mosques, temples, towns and human life in a modern day war opera through the syncopated notes of Morricone's musical themes.

Programmme

09.30 – 10.00 Registration

10.00 – 10.15 Welcome – Alixe Bovey (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Session I
Chair: Julian Stallabrass (The Courtauld institute of Art)

10.15 – 10.30 Noah Charney (Founder, ARCA): A Very Brief History of Art and Terrorism.

10.30 – 11.00 Jennifer Good (Senior Lecturer in History and Theory of Documentary Photography, London College of Communication): Totalising Narratives of 9/11.

11.00 – 11.30 Anna Marazuela Kim (Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow, The Courtauld Institute of Art): The New Image Wars.

11:30 – 12.00 Francesco Rutelli (Former Italian Minister of Culture and Mayor of Rome, Chairman Associazione Incontro di Civiltà, President Cultural Heritage Rescue Prize): The Return of Iconoclasm: Ideology and Destruction by ISIS as a Challenge for Modern Culture

12.00 – 13.00 Lunch (provided for the speakers/chairs only)

Session II
Chair: Noah Charney (ARCA)

13.00 – 13.30 Mike Giglio (Investigative Journalist and War Correspondent):
Antiquities Looting and Terrorism: a View from the Field.

13.30 – 14.00 Michael Will (Manager, Europol’s Organized Crime Networks Group):
Europol and European Involvement in the Fight Against Cultural Goods Trafficking.

14.00 – 14.30 Sam Hardy (Adjunct Faculty, Graduate School, American University of Rome):
‘Blood clings to these things’: Uncovering the trade in conflict antiquities.

14.30 – 14.45 Film screening: “The Quake” الزلزلة Directed by Matteo Barzini
Musical score by Ennio Morricone, Produced by Feel Film Production

15.00 – 15.30 Discussion

15.30 – 16.00 Tea/coffee break (provided)

Session III
Chair: Anna Marazuela Kim (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

16.00 – 16.30 Julian Stallabrass (Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art): Representing the Iraqi Resistance.

16.30 – 17.00 Edmund Clark (Award-winning photographer) Negative Publicity: Artefacts of Extraordinary Rendition

17.00 – 17.30 Neville Bolt (Senior Teaching Fellow, Department of War Studies, King’s College, London): The Violent Image in Non-linear Conflict.

17.30 – 17.45 Giovanni Boccardi (Chief of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Unit of UNESCO’s Culture Sector): UNESCO’s Global Action to Protect Cultural heritage Under Threat.

17.45 – 18.30 Plenary Discussion

18.30 Reception

October 1, 2015

Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi Makes First Appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague


Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi at his first appearance hearing
at the International Criminal Court in The Hague ©ICC-CPI
Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, the alleged Islamic radical charged with involvement in the 2012 destruction of historic mausoleums and a mosque in Timbuktu made his first appearance before the single Judge of Pre-Trial Chamber I, Cuno Tarfusser, of the International Criminal Court at the seat of the ICC in The Hague (The Netherlands).  This appearance comes after an arrest warrant was issued for his arrest and transfer to the ICC on Sept. 18, 2015. A copy of the arrest warrant, ICC-01/12-01/15 The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi can be read in French here.

Yesterday’s hearing was held in the presence of the Prosecutor and the Defence Duty Counsel, Mohamed Aouini. The Single Judge verified the identity of the suspect, Mr. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, and ensured that he was clearly informed of the charges brought against him and of his rights under the Rome Statute of the ICC to be communicated with in a language he fully understands.

Dressed in a suit and tie, Al Faqi Al Mahdi confirmed his identity and replied to Judge Cuno Tarfusser that he preferred to be spoken to in Arabic. In answering to the court, the suspect stated he was ethnic Tuareg, born approximately 40 years ago in Agoune, 100 km west of Timbuktu.   He indicated that he was a "graduate of the teachers' institute in Timbuktu and and a civil servant in education in the Malian government beginning 2011.

At this point in the hearing process, Al Faqi Al Mahdi was not required to enter a plea.  He he made no comment on the current charges against him. 

Mr. Al Faqi Al Mahdi’s trial marks a watershed moment in heritage crime prosecution as it represents the first case of its kind to be brought before the ICC concerning the destruction of buildings dedicated to religion and historical monuments.  Until recently the court, has focused its cases on attacks against individuals.  

Judge Tarfusser has set a date for the confirmation of charges hearing in respect to Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi for 18 January 2016.

The full proceedings of the hearing can be viewed below. 




September 4, 2015

In Memoriam: The Heritage Community Speaks Out on Destruction in Syria and Iraq

It’s human nature to want to memorialise someone who has recently died. We want people to know who they were by allowing friends and family to come together and provide thoughts, insights and memories of the departed. 

From the beginning when the first news of heritage destruction in Syria and Iraq began making world headlines, individuals in the heritage protection community have been asked to give interviews, express their outrage, contribute analysis and provide commentary for numerous articles as the situation goes from first initial shock to resigned sadness at the continues destruction.

Unfortunately most of these comments give impact to specific incidences only or disappear as soon as the next new tragedy makes front page headlines.  None of these individual articles singularly conveys how deeply concerned the heritage community is about how this war has taken such an extreme toll on Syria and Iraq. 

In this space, ARCA will attempt to display some of the many statements and tributes given by heritage lovers on what has been lost and will link to their original sources when not directly submitted.  If you would like to contribute a new quote of 250 words or less please follow us on Twitter at @ARCA_artcrime or ARCA on Facebook and leave us your thoughts in a message and we will post it formally here.


“But the wanton destruction of archaeological sites and cultural monuments will continue so long as the global community continues to express shock and outrage each time it happens. The 
perpetrators want just such a reaction. If the destruction of objects and sites in 
Syria grab bigger headlines than the ongoing plight of the Syrians themselves, 
this may lead hopeless people there to sympathise with the IS and 
regard the rest of the world as having its priorities. 
We ought to pay attention to Syria for the sake of its people — those refugees who risk drowning and commit to living forever displaced from their homes, those living in shelters and camps trying to avoid the fighting, and those staying behind to defend the homes they have lived 
in all their lives. We can care about sites and monuments too — not because 
they are important for “us”, but because they are part of communities 
where people have been working, living and dying for thousands of years. 
'Saving culture' does mean preserving objects. But it also must mean safeguarding the people and communities that live with it and carry it into the future. ” 
- Alexander A. Bauer

“In Palmyra the world saw what the smashing of the idols looks like. It is not an edifying sight.” “If the ruined ruins of Palmyra could speak, they would marvel at our shock. After all, they have 
been sacked before. In their mute and shattered eloquence, they spoke for centuries not 
only about the cultures that built them but also about the cultures that destroyed 
them—about the fragility of civilization itself, even when it is incarnated in
 stone. No designation of sanctity, by God or by UNESCO, suffices to protect the past. The past
 is helpless. Instead these ruins, all ruins, have had the effect of lifting the past out of 
history and into time. They carry the spectator away from facts
 and toward reveries.”
- Leon Wieseltier,  Contributing editor at The Atlantic and author of Kaddish. 

“The war ruthlessly strikes throughout Syria and Iraq. Thus, the old city of Aleppo, an endangered World Heritage Site, has become a front line where fighters deploy all possible means
of destruction, from Molotov cocktails to TNT barrels, and including mortars,
rockets, tanks, so called 'hell cannons' and tunnels packed with explosives or
simple small arms.”
“The looting of archaeological sites and the illicit traffic of their treasured objects, such as Apamea, Doura Europos and Mari, finance the continuation of the savagery of this war and irretrievably
 erase the pages of our history that scholars could still have written.”
—ICOMOS, the International Council on Monuments and Sites

“There will not be a ‘before’ in history. So there will not be an ‘after’. They are saying: ‘There is only us’. The people of Palmyra can compare ‘before’ and ‘after’ now, but in 
10 years’ time they won’t be able to compare. 
Because then no one will be left to remember.  
They will have no memory.”
- Joanne Farchakh, Archeologist 

“I don’t think we need to know the dollar value or the ranking of this income stream to know that we are all losing our cultural heritage and knowledge of our history through the looting,” 

- Patty Gerstenblith, Distinguished Research Professor of Law


Heritage is what answers the big question 'where do we come from? Without connection to the past there is no future to aspire to. 
 - Ivo van Sandick, Art Conservator


“Our past defines us.  From its bearings we can judge our path into the unknown future. To remove it denies us the foundation on which so many cultures are built, and offers us a future stripped of the achievements of generations. Without it, we risk losing any meaningful understanding of the true diversity of a land—Syria—that stood at the crossroads of a multiplicity of cultures, of the achievements that have inspired countless other cultures across the world, and of those who found ways to coexist in peace and to offer each other mutual support, despite the divides between them. Attacking Syria’s culture destroys both their history and ours, and the evidence of that great achievement of finding a path to peace whilst retaining the vibrant diversity that has made Syria so special. The systematic erasure of Syria’s proud and diverse archaeological, cultural, and historical heritage—first as a casualty in the civil war, and now through deliberate acts of mindless and criminal destruction—is a stain on humanity. On top of the untold thousands of deaths caused by the war, the damage done to Syria’s survivors by eradicating their past will make it all but impossible for the country, and for the Syrian people, to recover.
            - Staff, Heritage for Peace

“This is the thing about cultural heritage -- once it's gone, it's gone. We cannot actually recreate it,” “It won't grow back in a hundred years, so there will be no other
Bel Temple ever to look at again.”
- Clemens Reichel, Professor of archeology and Associate Curator, Royal Ontario Museum

“The things that ISIS are destroying aren’t just religious monuments, they are the first major monuments of the entire Arab people,” “It’s colossally sad.
- John Grout, Ph.D. student, London’s Royal Holloway University

“The temple of Bel in Palmyra, 
dedicated when Tiberius was emperor and Jesus was alive. 
For 1983 years it stood largely intact. Now it's gone.
- Tom Holland, Author and Historian - London

The systematic destruction of cultural symbols embodying Syrian cultural diversity reveals the true intent of such attacks, which is to deprive the Syrian people of its knowledge, 
its identity and history.
- Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

“Quasi peggio che durante il nazismo: Hitler aveva ammassato a Praga infiniti oggetti con cui costituire il "museo della razza estinta". Qui, invece, si estinguono i musei e i monumenti. Per carità: sempre meglio che gli uomini, ma ....

“Almost worse than under the Nazis. In Prague, Hitler amassed an infinite number of objects for a museum which allegedly was to be called 'the Museum of an Extinct Race.'
Here in this case however, they extinguish the museums and monuments. To be clear, its always better (to save) men, but still….
--Fabio Isman, Journalist 

“I am too deeply sad and dissapointed in humanity, giving where I am coming from, to actually be able to verbalize it. I thought the crimes of World War II taught us something.
- Magdalena Kropiwnicka, Activist and Consultant

“Even earthquakes would have been less horrible,” he said. “The temple was the most iconic and one of the most beautiful in Syria, and we have lost it.” 
“We have lost all hope. We have lost all hope that the international community will resist and we lost hope of any international movement to save the city,”
- Maumoon Abdul-Karim, the Director-General of Syria’s Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) 

“The cultural cleansing ISIS has inflicted on historic sites like Nimrud, and Palmyra are graphically visible wounds, but the violence caused by the destruction at these sites is more insidious.  Its not just the loss of a singular temple or palace or its artwork.  By not protecting these sites we passively watch the destruction of a culture’s memory.  When we stand by and allow the roots of shared identity to be destroyed by iconoclasts like ISIS we eliminate the opportunity for future generations to share in and learn from their past. This is by far the greater tragedy.
--Lynda Albertson, ARCA