Established by Fathi Ibrahim Bayoud 2005 - Homs
(Reporting by Lama Shammas; Translation by Yusra Ahmed)
ISTANBUL-(Zaman Alwasl)- “For serious customers only” , a scarce picture of Sulaiman Qanoni, the Ottoman Sultan, looking for a buyer appreciates its value and effort to smuggle it from Syria. It is not a joke or a sentence from a TV show; it is an announcement for an archaeological piece of art being circulated among traffickers behind doors.
The story of the picture started when it was smuggled from Syria to reach to one of archaeology trafficking gangs in Istanbul, thinking that the famous Turkish TV serious about Sultan Sulaiman could help in selling it which has not happened, that forced the gang to expand their circle of communication to find a buyer, which led the news to reach to Zaman Alwasl.
Abo Yamen, an activist and archeologist, reveals that most ancient and cultural heritage in the liberated areas of Syria are under threat of being stolen and smuggled by some armed battalions, as they do not appreciate the value of such treasure and their historical value. He explains that most of those pieces are smuggled via Syrian-Turkish borders.
Abo Yamen thinks that reporting the agent who Zaman Alwasl found, would not help in catching the gang, as they are “big protected network”. He advises that protecting Syria’s archaeology and heritage should start in preventing stealing and smuggling them in first place, and that is the responsibility of armed battalions, as they have to protect archaeology and cultural heritage under their control, supposing they do not participate in stealing and smuggling”.
The activist and archaeologist says sadly: “protecting Syria’s archaeology is as important as liberating it, a nation without a history, would be without a future”
Abo Yamen considers that bombing and shelling heritage and historical statuses and building, a crime against human being’s history, moreover, when stealing and smuggling small pieces, the adverse effects on Syria’s history would be disastrous.
The damaging effects and awfulness of the crime reach to unbearable level, when inexpert archaeology traffickers break big historical pieces into smaller ones to ease smuggling them. Which results in wasting and destroying the country’s history and make collecting it again an impossible mission.
UNESCO held a meeting titled “Rallying the International Community to Safeguard Syria’s Cultural Heritage” in the organizations headquarter in Paris between 26-28 May, 2014. The organization decided to establish an observatory in Beirut (Lebanon) to monitor and assess the state of Syria’s cultural heritage. The Observatory will monitor the state of buildings, artefacts and intangible cultural heritage to combat illicit trafficking and collect information to restore heritage once the fighting is over.
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