Posts Tagged ‘cultural heritage’

The unholy wisdom of invoking sovereignty

July 6, 2020

When writing about human rights defenders one comes regularly across invocations of “sovereignty”. Erdogan now uses the hyperbole for Hagia Sophia.

A recent example was India’s reaction to the UN High Commissioner’s amicus curiae brief [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/03/05/indias-overblown-notion-of-sovereignty-no-to-un-advice-for-supreme-court/] and a recurring one is China [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2012/12/06/china-and-its-amazing-sensitivity-on-human-rights-defenders/]. The USA feels also strongly: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/06/12/trump-issues-new-sanctions-on-the-icc-and-human-rights-defenders/.

On 4 July 2020 Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – a fervent nationalist – rejected criticism over his willingness to convert Istanbul’s famed Hagia Sophia landmark into a mosque despite international and domestic concern. “Charges against our country over Hagia Sophia are a direct attack on our right to sovereignty,” Erdogan said. (Interestingly the same day an Istanbul court convicted human rights defenders [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/07/06/istanbul-court-jails-four-human-rights-defenders-on-terror-charges-seven-acquitted/]). 

We will never resort to seeking your permission or your consent,” he said last month in a retort to warnings from other countries on the Hagia Sophia. “Do you rule Turkey, or do we?”

Turkey’s top court is considering whether the museum can be redesignated as a mosque. Many scholars (not just Greek) think this is a terrible idea: https://greekcitytimes.com/2020/07/06/more-than-300-scholars-across-the-world-appeal-to-turkey-not-to-convert-hagia-sophia-into-a-mosque/.

Moreover, in order to change its status, a decision will have to be made by the Unesco intergovernmental committee. The Art Newspaper understands that the date of Unesco’s next committee meeting has not been set. Unesco declined to comment further regarding the Turkish government’s plans but Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, Unesco’s assistant director for culture, told Greek press last month that “before any decision can be taken to change the status of a Cultural Heritage Monument, such as Hagia Sophia, a decision of the relevant Unesco intergovernmental committee is required”. He added that Unesco had written to Turkish authorities in June outlining its concerns but had not yet received a reply.

https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/international/europe/1593782667-erdogan-interference-over-hagia-sophia-direct-attack-on-our-sovereignty

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/turkish-government-on-collision-course-with-unesco-over-hagia-sophia-mosque-initiative

Destruction of cultural heritage is also an attack on human rights defenders

October 31, 2016

When cultural heritage is under attack, it is also the people and their fundamental human rights that are under attack, a United Nations expert warned the UN General Assembly, issuing an urgent call to step up international action against the destruction of heritage such as monuments, historic sites and sacred places, reports Just Earth News on 28 October 2016.

Destruction of cultural heritage is an attack on people and their fundamental rights – UN expert
 Destruction of cultural heritage is an attack on people and their fundamental rights – UNESCO
Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Mali and Syria are all in our minds on Thursday, but many more countries are to be added to this list, where acts of intentional destruction harm all, target free thinkers and disproportionately affect people belonging to minorities,” the UN Special Rapporteur on cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, stressed in her briefing to the General Assembly’s Third Committee.

According to Special Rapporteur, in order to protect cultural heritage, including precious monuments, sites and sacred places, the first step that has to be taken is protecting human rights and people. “Destruction is often accompanied by other grave assaults on human dignity and human rights. We must care not only about the destruction of heritage, but also about the destruction of the lives of human beings. They are interrelated,” Bennoune stated…

…At the end of her report, the Special Rapporteur paid tribute to all those who had sacrificed their lives to preserve world’s cultural heritage. “In many cases we must consider cultural heritage professionals on the frontlines of the struggle against destruction as human rights defenders,” Bennoune stated, adding that it is vital that we ensure their safety and security, grant them asylum, and create necessary work conditions for them.

Source: Destruction of cultural heritage is an attack on people and their fundamental rights – UN expert | Indiablooms – First Portal on Digital News Management