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Afghanistan Statue Destruction


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
Although this story is not exactly related to Japan, I decided to post it. Sad, sad, sad........

Friday, March 2 4:49 PM SGT

Japan Voices Concern Over Afghanistan Statue Destruction

TOKYO (AP)--The Japanese government added its voice Friday to concerns being raised around the world over the destruction of all statues in Afghanistan, including two ancient Buddhist ones, by Taliban troops.
"The Japanese government is deeply concerned," said Kazuhiko Koshikawa, spokesman for Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori. "Those statues are assets to all human beings."

"If they are ruined, it would be an immeasurable loss," he said. "The Japanese government hopes that Taliban will review such a decision and take appropriate measures."

Taliban troops armed with everything from tanks to rocket launchers began destroying all the statues in Afghanistan Thursday because the works of art have been deemed idolatrous.

Anger over the order has been particularly strong in Buddhist areas of Asia because the works include two huge Buddha statues carved into a cliff in Bamiyan province, about 125 kilometers west of the capital Kabul.

One of the statues is 53 meters high and dates to the 5th century; the other is 36 meters tall and dates to the 3rd century.

The call for restraint from Japan's government comes after Buddhist leaders here expressed similar concerns. Most Japanese consider themselves followers of both Buddhism and the native religion of Shinto.

Copyright ツゥ Yahoo! News
More about the Taliban at About.com

For those who are interested in more information about the Taliban movement and the position it occupies in Islam, please refer to the About site below:


Kyodo News today featured the following article:

Buddhas must stand: lawmakers

TOKYO - The tripartite ruling coalition decided Tuesday to send representatives to Afghanistan to ask Taliban authorities not to destroy the two towering Buddha statues in Bamyan in central Afghanistan, coalition officials said.

The three-member delegation with one member each from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the New Komeito party and the New Conservative Party (NCP) led by NCP House of Representatives member Kenshiro Matsunami will leave Japan on Wednesday carrying a letter from Foreign Minister Yohei Kono. (Kyodo News March 7)

Copyright ツゥ Kyodo News
Japan's Response to Taliban's Edict to Destroy Statues

Taken from the web site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA):

Japan's Response to Taliban's Edict to Destroy Statues

March 7, 2001

  1. Japan expressed its deepest concern over the edict issued by the Taliban's leader to destroy all statues in Afghanistan, and has been strongly urging those concerned to revoke the edict through its embassy in Pakistan.
  2. As part of its efforts, the Government of Japan on March 7 commissioned a group of representatives of the three ruling parties who left for Afghanistan to convey a letter addressed to Mr. Mutawakil, who serves as the Taliban's "Foreign Minister", from Foreign Minister Yohei Kono, urging the Taliban to review the edict.
  3. On March 7, Mr. Kono also sent letters to the Foreign Ministers of eight countries mainly in the Gulf region (Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen) expressing the deepest concern of Japan about the issue and requesting that all efforts should be made to urge the Taliban to review the edict.
  4. The Government of Japan urges the Taliban to respond to Japan's request by reviewing the edict and taking proper measures for the preservation of cultural treasures. Japan also urges the Taliban and the other conflicting parties in Afghanistan to stop fighting and resume direct talks aimed at peace as soon as possible.[/list=1]
Just stones?

This article was taken from Yahoo! Daily News:

Sunday March 11 6:27 PM ET

Islamic Appeal to Taliban Probably Too Late

By Sayed Salahuddin

KABUL (Reuters) - A group of scholars from the world's largest Islamic organization made a last ditch effort to save Afghanistan (news - web sites)'s historic statues but U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) said it was probably already too late.

A delegation from the 55-nation Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), who arrived in the southern Afghan town of Kandahar Sunday for talks with Taliban authorities, were to continue talks Monday.

A Pakistan-based Afghan news service quoted the Taliban ambassador in Pakistan as saying Kabul could halt the destruction if it was unanimously ordered by visiting Islamic scholars and Afghan religious scholars.

The OIC delegation, led by Qatar Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah Zaid al-Mahmoud, included Egypt's top cleric, the Mufti Nasr Farid Wassel, and renowned Muslim figures. But Afghan sources in Islamabad said it was unlikely the Taliban's hard-line ulema, or scholars, would agree with the OIC delegation.

Annan said after a Sunday meeting in Islamabad with Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil that there may no longer be anything to save -- including the two giant statues of the Buddha at Bamiyan.

``He confirmed that all movable statues have been destroyed and the destruction of the two (Bamiyan) statues had begun but he could not tell me the status of the demolition,'' Annan told a news conference. ``I had hoped for much better news.'' A Taliban spokesman in Kandahar said demolition of the Buddhas, which towered 175 feet and 125 feet, continued Sunday after being 80 percent complete by Saturday.

Muttawakil told a separate news conference the order by Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar was ``totally an internal religious matter'' and could not be halted. He dismissed protests by Islamic figures.

The destruction has triggered world-wide alarm; western countries see the attacks as an assault on world heritage and countries with many Buddhists consider the smashing of the statues as religious bigotry.

The destruction of Afghanistan's heritage -- most from the Buddhist period nearly 2,000 years ago -- could make it more difficult to raise aid for the impoverished country, Annan said, urging donors to remember that assistance is not aimed at the rulers.

Annan, who arrived in Pakistan Saturday at the start of a regional tour, expressed concern about conditions in Afghanistan, where drought and war have driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in the past year.

The Taliban had already faced strong criticism before the statue dispute over their treatment of women, alleged support of terrorism and their continued focus on war at a time of near famine in Afghanistan.

If they do carry through this lamentable decision I think they will be doing themselves a great deal of disservice,'' Annan said. ``And they will be doing a great deal of disservice to Islam, in whose name they claim to be doing this -- but I don't think anyone will accept that.''

The United Nations (news - web sites) has refused to recognize the Taliban as the legal government of Afghanistan despite holding more than 90 percent of the territory, a position that could harden with the destruction of the statues.

Shortly before Annan spoke, Muttawakil told a news conference at the Taliban embassy -- Pakistan is one of only three countries to recognize the movement -- that he had told the U.N. chief he would not halt the destruction of what the Taliban see as heathen idols.

We do admit all these statues were the cultural heritage of Afghanistan,'' Muttawakil said. But we will not leave the part which is contrary to our belief."

Copyright ツゥ Yahoo! Daily News
NEWS: Taliban Come to Japan?

Although no clear information come from Afghanistan whether or the said statues are still intact or not, it is clear that the dealing and wheeling isn't over yet. Read the story below taken from Japan Today:

Taliban to come to Japan to defend Buddha smashing: Kono

Wednesday, March 21, 2001 at 18:00 JST

TOKYO 窶 Japan plans to invite Afghanistan's ruling Taliban authorities to Tokyo next month to discuss their destruction of two Buddha statues in Bamyan Province, Foreign Minister Yohei Kono indicated Wednesday.

"I think they will come to Japan for the talks," Kono told a press conference, adding the world must closely monitor moves in Afghanistan in the wake of the statue demolition that drew international attention and outrage.

Copyright ツゥ Japan Today & Kyodo News
And while we are at the topic...

And while we are at the topic, here's what Kyodo News released today (26/05/01), meanwhile also shown on all Japanese news channels:

Muslims protest torn Koran to Foreign Ministry

TOKYO 窶 About 400 Muslims, angry over the discovery of a torn copy of the Koran in front of a Pakistani-run business in Kosugi, Toyama Prefecture, lodged a protest with the Japanese Foreign Ministry on Friday after holding a rally at a Tokyo mosque.

A delegation of six protesters led by Raees Siddiqui, head of the association of Pakistani residents in Japan, visited the Foreign Ministry and handed the letter 窶 demanding preventive measures and punishment for the culprits 窶 to Takeshi Hikihara, director of the ministry's Southwest Asia Division.

Copyright ツゥ Kyodo News
Tearing Coran editions to pieces seems to become a common way of displaying socio-criticism, as reported by [DLMURL="http://mdn.mainichi.co.jp/news"]Mainichi News[/DLMURL] on Oct. 14, 2001:

Woman arrested for destroying Koran

TOYAMA -- An unnamed Japanese woman in her 20s who shredded copies of the Koran and dumped them in front of a Pakistani used car salesman's lot has been arrested, police said Sunday.

Desecration of the holy book in May sparked riots among Japan's Muslims and prompted hundreds of Islamic believers to march on the Toyama Prefectural Government and Foreign Ministry offices in Tokyo.

But the woman, who has admitted to stealing and destroying the books, says that rather than being an attack on Islam, she used the incident to strike back at her uncaring father.

"I thought that if I did something really terrible, I'd create problems for my daddy," the woman told the police.

Police said that during early April, the woman sneaked into a Toyama Prefecture mosque and stole four religious books, three of which were copies of the Koran, the holiest text for Muslims. She later cut up the books with a pair of scissors.

On the night of May 20, she dumped the shredded books in front of a used car sales lot in Kosugi, Toyama Prefecture, owned by a Pakistani man.

Outraged, the used car dealer gathered about 300 Muslim protesters to demonstrate against the slur made to their holy book.

Copyright ツゥ Mainichi Interactive
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