Showing posts with label Syria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Syria. Show all posts

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

September 30, 2015

Highlights from “Conflict Antiquities: Forging a Public/Private Response to Save Iraq and Syria's Endangered Cultural Heritage”


In an awareness raising initiative to highlight the ongoing upheaval and destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria, the Metropolitan Museum and the US State Department jointly held an event yesterday titled, “Conflict Antiquities: Forging a Public/Private Response to Save Iraq and Syria's Endangered Cultural Heritage” in New York City.

Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken highlighted one example of a looted and not destroyed antiquity that is known to have passed through the hands of ISIS operatives.  The object, a 9th century B.C.E: ivory plaque, decorated with a procession of Assyrian officials and foreign tributaries was excavated at the ancient Assyrian capital of Nimrud by a team from the British Museum in 1989.  The plaque was recovered by U.S. special operations forces during a tactical raid that killed a key ISIS commander, identified by his nom de guerre Abu Sayyaf, last May in al-Omar in eastern Syria.

This ancient object is known to have been looted from the Mosul Museum (Iraq) and underscores what many following illicit antiquities trafficking have already concluded, that the Islamic State not only destroys objects it find religiously offensive or useful for its public propaganda but also has been known to plunder antiquities for some level of financial gain or as war booty when opportunity knocks. 

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Keller added that "newly declassified evidence" seized when American Delta Force commandos took out Abu Sayyaf and twelve other Islamic State of Iraq and Syria fighters included receipts collecting taxes from looters as well as written edicts that threatened punishment for those caught looting antiquities without formal Islamic State permission. 

While some of this information appears to be newly declassified, conflict antiquities archaeologist Dr. Sam Hardy released a lengthy analysis of the heritage hoard seized during the Abu Sayyaf raid when details of the cache were released by the State Department in July 2015.  That analysis has been available for two months and can be reviewed here.  

Robert A. Hartung, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Diplomatic Affairs announced a new initiative within their "Rewards for Justice" program,  an incentive established by the 1984 Act to Combat International Terrorism, Public Law 98-533.   The program is administered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security and announced yesterday that they are set to 


Hartuung emphasized that the Rewards for Justice incentive is not a buyback program, but reward for help in identifying and catching smugglers linked to ISIS.  At present this reward appears to be restricted solely to the Islamic State and does not appear to be not available for information leading to the disruption of the sale of illicit antiquities by other armed groups or other non political traffickers profiting from the absence of controls during the ongoing war.

Another panel discussion highlighted the work of the US government-sponsored organisation currently tasked with ground-based observations of cultural heritage incidents in Syria and Iraq. Michael Danti, from the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), who’s group has just been allocated a second tranche of federal funding totalling $900,000 in an extension to their previous $600,000 one-year cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of State spoke on his organization's work continues to document the current condition of cultural heritage sites in Syria and portions of Iraq.   While useful in its own right, ASOR's federally-funded initiative often draws upon the research and analysis of other conflict antiquities researchers, some of whom consistently work below the funding radar, within this sector of expertise on a voluntary basis and without the benefit of funding from governmental or academic bodies. 

Wolfgang Weber, ‎Head of Global Regulatory Policy at eBay, spoke about the due diligence of the web-based auction powerhouse that handles 800 million online auctions a year.  Sales of illicit objects online are a known and ongoing problem where illicit antiquities are concerned and attempts to prevent such illegal activity via large auction sites such as eBay are a work in progress.  Judging from their ability to monitor other areas of illicit activity, many believe that eBay's efforts in policing their online marketplace have largely been ineffective or fallen short of desirable outcomes. 

Weber's presence on the panel underscores that the internet is being harnessed to provide valuable tools for traffickers, who exploit weaknesses in online marketplaces, making the illicit trafficking of cultural property faster, easier and ever more difficult for authorities to fight.

During his presentation Weber stated that his team's task is to identify illegal items & remove them from the online marketplace but he added that eBay does not have the capacity to check individual items, only their sales conduit.  This means that the auction site's contribution to stopping illegal sales is limited to preventing sellers from listing items of concern or in some cases removing listings before a sale can be made.  

eBay relies heavily on key word searches and external reports by individuals who inform the company when an object has been identified which is of dubious origin or legality.  Private citizens and researchers connected to small NGOs are hampered from stopping the online trafficking of items as they can only flag up what’s known to be illegal or looks that way to eBay. Those monitoring the online auction site cannot procure hard evidence by buying the actual contraband as they would then be in violation of national and international laws and treaties themselves. 

Lev Kubiak, ICE Assistant Director for International Operations spoke on US Immigration and Customs Enforcements roll in cultural property, art and antiquities investigations highlighting their 
"Operation Mummy’s Curse,” a five-year investigation carried out by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) that targeting an international criminal network that illegally smuggled and imported more than 7,000 cultural items from around the world and resulted in at least two convictions. 

Sharon Cott, Senior Vice President, Secretary & General Counsel at the Metropolitan Museum, spoke in support of AAMD member museums who apply ethical principles to safeguard against purchasing blood antiquities and to the roll of museums should play as safe havens for objects during times of unrest. 

Dr. Markus Hilgert, a professor of ancient Near-Eastern studies and Director of the Vorderasiatisches Museum im Pergamonmuseum - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin spoke about his newly funded trans-disciplinary research project on the illicit trade, ILLICID, with partners in customs and law enforcement, the German Federal Foreign Office, Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media, German Commission for UNESCO and ICOM. The ILLICID project is financed via the German Federal Ministry for Education.

Hilgert stressed the need to identify and develop criminological methods for in-depth analysis of illicit trafficking, stressing the need for more information on object types, turnover, networks, and various modus operandi.  He further underscored the need to adequately assess the various dimensions of money laundering and terrorist financing that may be being derived from heritage trafficking.  In conclusion he emphasized that trafficking is the number one threat to the world's cultural patrimony - more than destruction. 

ARCA would like to thank all those who were present in the room and who live-tweeted the conference and took detailed notes allowing those of us in Europe to listen in, even if it was way past our bedtimes.

A list of those folks who lent a hand are:
@cwjones89
@vagabondslog
@keridouglas
@AWOL_tweets
@mokersel
@adreinhard
@mokersel
@HeritageAtState
@ChasingAphrodit
@metmuseum
@jstpwalsh
@LarryCoben
@InventorLogan

There was a lot of ground covered and more still that needs to be covered.

by Lynda Albertson

September 8, 2015

In Homage to Zenobia, 3rd century Queen of Palmyra, Her Statue is Erected in Umayyad Square, Damascus.

Image Credit: SANA
In defiance to the destruction and havoc being wrecked in Palmyra, an imposing statute of Queen Zenobia, the 3rd century queen of Palmyra, has been erected in Damascus at Umayyad Square where it will be on display for the next four days.

The statue represents a component of  the “From Palmyra to Damascus” activity held during the 5th Forum of Arts and Innovation which has been organised by Syria's Ministry of Tourism.  In response to the event's inauguration tourism minister Bisher Yazigi released a press statement regarding the events saying in part that “life in Syria cannot be brought to a standstill despite raging war.”


During the heritage-based forum, the statue of Zenobia will be installed next to another representing Dr.  Khaled al-Asaad, the prominent archeologist who was the director of antiquities and director of the museum in Palmyra for 40 years until his retirement in 2003.  Dr al-Asaad was beheaded August 18, 2015 by Islamic State militants, in front of an assembled crowd, near the ancient ruins he spent his life studying and protecting.  He was 82 years old.

The Forum run through September 9th, and includes the photo exhibition presented in the film below on crimes against Syria’s cultural heritage and historical treasures, documentaries about the Syrian civilization, and a film highlighting the Dr. al-Asaad's work in Palmyra.








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