ICOM is appalled by the intentional destruction of objects from the Mosul Museum in Iraq
In the wake of the devastating images of the intentional destruction of objects from the Mosul Museum, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) is deeply concerned for the safety of museum professionals in Iraq and mourns the loss of invaluable cultural heritage due to this reprehensible attack. The international museum community shares the pain of the Iraqi people in the face of such brutal assaults on their collective history and identity. When cultural objects of a country disappear, all people are denied a part of their shared history and are taken as hostages alongside the heritage. The international community must not only strongly condemn the destruction of such an important collection, but must take immediate measures to prevent further deplorable assaults on the culture and history of humankind.
Voluntary destruction of elements of Iraq’s millennial culture and history, and those of the broader region, has been occurring for many years. This recent calculated provocation is also an attack on the concept of museums, and a forceful rejection of the ways in which the world approaches and values ancient societies. Concerned about the frequency of such systematic destruction of heritage, ICOM calls on the responsibility of all for protecting the cultural heritage of the world, of which the ancient royal cities of Nineveh, Nimrud and Hatra in northern Iraq are great vestiges. These senseless acts are in complete violation of national and international legislation, encompassing the recent United Nations resolution 2199, which condemns the destruction of cultural property and aims to prevent the trade in items of cultural, scientific and religious importance that have been illegally removed from their country of origin during periods of conflict.
For over a decade, ICOM has dedicated itself to emergency preparedness and response for museum professionals and to the protection of Iraqi cultural objects at risk of illicit trade. In this regard, a revised version of the Emergency Red List of Iraqi Cultural Objects at Risk will soon be published. (http://icom.museum/resources/red-lists-database/red-list/iraq/)
In extending solidarity and support to our colleagues in Iraq, ICOM wishes to further contribute to future capacity-building efforts for museum professionals of the region who could be confronted with such exceptional and tragic situations.