by Humberto Marquez
CARACAS - One million books, 10 million documents, and 14,000 archaeological
artifacts have been lost in the U.S.-led invasion and subsequent occupation
of Iraq - the biggest cultural disaster since the descendants of Genghis
Khan destroyed Baghdad in 1258, Venezuelan writer Fernando Baez told IPS.
"U.S. and Polish soldiers are still stealing treasures today and selling
them across the borders with Jordan and Kuwait, where art merchants pay up
to $57,000 for a Sumerian tablet," said Baez, who was interviewed during a
brief visit to Caracas.
The expert on the destruction of libraries has helped document the
devastation of cultural and religious objects in Iraq, where the ancient
Mesopotamian kingdoms of Sumer, Akkad, and Babylon emerged, giving it a
reputation as the birthplace of civilisation.
His inventory of the destruction and his denunciations that the coalition
forces are violating the Hague Convention of 1954 on the protection of
cultural heritage in times of war have earned him the enmity of Washington.
Baez said he was refused a visa to enter the United States to take part in
In addition, he has been barred from returning to Iraq "to carry out further
investigations," he added. "But it's too late, because we already have
documents, footage and photos that in time will serve as evidence of the
atrocities committed," said Baez, the author of The Cultural Destruction of
Iraq and A Universal History of the Destruction of Books, which were
published in Spanish. . . .
Ole Rothenborg, "U.S. Troops
Encouraged Ransacking," Dagens Nyheter, April 11, 2003
Robert Fisk, "A New Colonial
Oppression," Independent, April 17, 2003
Jeffrey St. Clair, "The Looting of Iraqi
Agriculture," CounterPunch, July 4, 2003
Rory McCarthy and Maev Kennedy, "Babylon
wrecked by war: US-led forces leave a trail of destruction and contamination
in architectural site of world importance," Guardian, January 15, 2005
Gary Leupp, "The
Bombing of the Malwiya Minaret," CounterPunch , April 4, 2005
Louise Jury, "At least 8,000 treasures looted from Iraq museum still untraced,"
Independent, May 24, 2005
[The World Monuments Fund has just placed the country on its list of the
Earth's 100 most endangered sites. . . . This is the first time that the
Fund has ever put a whole nation on its list . . . .
President Bush's supporters have talked endlessly about his global war on
terrorism as a "clash of civilizations." But the civilization we are in the
process of destroying in Iraq is part of our own heritage. It is also part
of the world's patrimony.--Chalmers Johnson, "The Smash of
Civilizations," TomDispatch.com, July 7, 2005]
[As the Suddeutsche Zeitung reported in May 2003, US troops broke the locks
of museums, ministries and universities and told looters: "Go in Ali Baba,
it's all yours!"--Richard Drayton, "Shock, awe and Hobbes have backfired on America's neocons," Guardian,
December 28, 2005]