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Letter of Support for Malian Cultural Heritage

posted by CAA — May 31, 2012

May 31, 2012

Ecole du Patrimoine Africain
01 BP 2205

Dear Ecole du Patrimoine Africain:

On behalf of the College Art Association’s Board of Directors and 14,000 international members, we would like to express our grave concern for the protection of Mali’s cultural heritage in light of the current military action in the north of the country. On May 4, two mausoleums of Saints were intentionally defaced in Timbuktu, and there is reason to think such vandalism will continue unless the government of Mali and the National Army of the Republic of Mali act to safeguard the country’s cultural property.

Mali is renowned for its cultural achievements, and its cultural heritage is considered patrimony of Mali, Africa and the entire international community. Four sites have been declared World Heritage by UNESCO and six cultural practices are considered intangible heritage; they have been inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

We urge the Government and Army to protect Mali’s people and cultural artifacts in accordance with the international Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954), the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, and the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

We appeal to the political and military authorities in Mali to work for the best interest of the Malian nation, which should take precedence in ensuring the return to constitutional order in the north. We urge them to guarantee the preservation, integrity and security of cultural goods and people in all their dimensions and components, especially in occupied areas in Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal, and ask Mali’s neighbors to prevent the illicit transfer of objects and works of art from Mali through customs and police controls at their borders.

Sincerely yours,

Anne Collins Goodyear

Linda Downs
Executive Director