US President Trump just threatened Iran with Cultural Genocide
Would the U.S. attack Iranian Cultural sites?
Would the U.S. attack Iranian Cultural sites? The deliberate destruction of antiquities and others in the birthplace of human civilization is cultural genocide.
The Islamic State, or ISIS, in Syria and then in Iraq had turned the destruction of heritage into a new kind of historical tragedy. As seen in videos gleefully disseminated online 3 years ago by its infamous propaganda wing, ISIS militants have attacked priceless artifacts with jackhammers, rampaged through museum galleries housing historically unique collections, and exploded sites in a territory they control for scarifying effect.
Hundreds of ISIS fighters overran another Unesco site in Syria, the ancient city of Palmyra, renowned for its Roman-era ruins.
The most powerful man in the world, the President of the United States of America Donald Trump threatened to destroy cultural sites in Iran in case of a conflict.
The president on Sunday evening doubled down on his claim that he would target Iranian cultural sites if Iran retaliated for the targeted killing of one of its top generals, breaking with US secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the issue.
Aboard Air Force One on his way back from his holiday trip to Florida, Mr. Trump reiterated to reporters traveling with him the spirit of a Twitter post on Saturday, when he said that the United States government had identified 52 sites for retaliation against Iran if there were a response to Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani’s death. Some, he tweeted, was of “cultural” significance.
Such a move could be considered a war crime under international laws, but Mr. Trump said Sunday that he was undeterred.
“They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people,” the president said. “And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way.”
The deliberate destruction of antiquities by ISIS and others in the birthplace of human civilization was categorized by UNESCO and cultural genocide.
One could possibly agree with the president on the threat Iran could be for the world, but destroying cultural heritage anywhere on the globe is overstepping a line, a civilized society should not even think about. UNESCO, UNWTO, and the United Nations together with the Global Travel and Tourism Industry should take a stand.
In November 2019 the Los Angeles Times reported from Armenia:
For centuries the sacred khachkars of Djulfa stood tall along the banks of the River Aras — hulking and ornately carved 16th-century headstones, an army 10,000 strong, steadfastly guarding the world’s largest medieval Armenian cemetery. Earthquakes, war, and vandalism diminished their ranks, but by the middle of the 20th century, thousands of khachkars still remained.
Today, however, not a single statuesque sandstone sculpture stands at Djulfa, in the remote Nakhichevan region of Azerbaijan. Despite a 2000 UNESCO order demanding their protection, evidence published in the art journal Hyperallergic this year indicated that the monuments were covertly and systematically demolished as part of an alleged Azerbaijani campaign to erase traces of indigenous Armenian culture in Nakhichevan.
The scope of the destruction is stunning: 89 medieval churches, 5,840 khachkars and 22,000 tombstones, the report said. The annihilation of cultural heritage dwarfs the more widely reported and condemned razing of sites by Islamic State in Syria and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Simon Maghakyan, 33, a co-author of the Hyperallergic article, described Azerbaijan’s alleged demolition of these sacred churches and monuments from 1997 to 2006 as “the worst cultural genocide of the 21st century.”
Late last month, inside a ballroom at the Pasadena Convention Center in California, Maghakyan presented the research behind the Hyperallergic article to attendees at the Armenian National Committee of America Western Region’s Grassroots Conference.
Cultural genocide or cultural cleansing is a concept that lawyer Raphael Lemkin distinguished in 1944 as a component of genocide. The precise definition of “cultural genocide” remains contested. However, The Armenian Genocide Museum defines cultural genocide as “acts and measures undertaken to destroy nations’ or ethnic groups’ culture through spiritual, national, and cultural destruction.