Cultural heritage scholars condemned colleagues’ participation in Damascus conference

by The Aleppo Project on December 23, 2016

A group of Syrian and international cultural heritage scholars issued a statement condemning the participation of European and American colleagues in a conference hosted recently in Damascus by the Syrian Ministries of Culture and Tourism. The signatories of the statement criticised what they believed constituted support and participation in the “propaganda victory for the regime in Damascus” at a time when much of Aleppo’s historical heart is reduced to rubble and Palmyra is lost to ISIS again.

Below is the full text of the statement.

“About a recent colloquium in Damascus on December 10th-11th, 2016
The “international” colloquium “New Visions and proposals for the resilience of the Syrian heritage”, organized by the Syrian Ministry of Culture – Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums with the Ministry of Tourism, was held in Damascus on December 10th-11th, 2016:…/…/downloads/Colloquium_schedule.pdf

It was attended by a group of European and American colleagues who appeared unconcerned by the propaganda value of their presence among the dignitaries of a regime that is undertaking endless atrocities on its citizens.

At a time when Aleppo is dying, when the historical core of the city is partly reduced to rubble, when the country and its people endure its most tragic moments of pain and suffering, when Palmyra/Tadmor is left again in the hands of jihadists, we remain disarmed and speechless to witness this shameful act of compromise and ignominy, supporting what obviously constitutes a propaganda victory for the regime in Damascus.

We all lament the awful destruction of Syria’s antiquities, but we should abhor even more the Syrian regime’s wholesale destruction of its cities, towns and citizens and condemn those who lend their support to this brutal government, even under the guise of their sincere concern for the fate of its antiquities and cultural heritage.

We, in the name of our associations, wish to express our dismay and bewilderment to our colleagues who lend their prestige and professional affiliations in support of this violent regime. We furthermore, for the honor of our disciplines, wish to disassociate ourselves from their shameful and objectionable behavior and reject their severe and unforgivable attenuation of all our recognized ethical and moral norms.

Marc Lebeau,
The European Centre for Upper Mesopotamian Studies, Brussels

With the support of:

— Cheikhmous Ali (Director), on behalf of the Association for the Protection of Syrian Archaeology,
— Ali Othman (Director), on behalf of Le Patrimoine Archéologique Syrien en Danger,
— Ayman Mustafa Alnabo (Director), on behalf of the Idlib Antiquities Centre,
— Eli Heme Heme (Director), on behalf of the cultural n.g.o. Subartu, Qamishli,
— Soliman Alessa (Director), on behalf of the Department of Antiquities, Bosra,
— Mutasem Syoufi (Executive Director), on behalf of The Day After,
— Richard M. Leventhal (Executive Director), on behalf of the Penn Cultural Heritage Center, University of Pennsylvania Museum.”

The Aleppo ProjectCultural heritage scholars condemned colleagues’ participation in Damascus conference