Taliban reneging on ‘Bamiyan Buddhas’ promises

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Last month, the Taliban promised that they had become saviours of Buddhist relics, that would bring tourists to Bamiyan. …reports Mrityunjoy Kumar Jha

First, they destroyed it, now the Taliban fighters are using remnants of the Bamiyan Buddhas for target practices. Recently many video clips surfaced on social media where Taliban fighters were shown firing rocket propelled grenades at those caves where giant Buddha statues had stood for more than 1,400 years.

In one video clip, shared by the Gandhara news, at least seven Taliban gunmen are seen firing at the caves. They were seen raising Taliban slogans.

In the video clip, one can see a grenade exploding against the wall of the niche where a giant Buddha had once been. When the Gandhara news asked Ahmadullah Wasiq, the deputy head of the Taliban-led government’s cultural commission, he said investigations are on and “culprits will be handed over and brought to justice.”

According to the news site, the culprits are from the command unit of the Taliban which is deployed there to guard the historic site. The provincial governor in Bamiyan, Mullah Shireen Akhund, who was part of the Taliban negotiating team in Doha, had promised to protect the site.

Last month, the Taliban promised that they had become saviours of Buddhist relics, that would bring tourists to Bamiyan.

As reported by indianarrative.com , the head of Bamiyan’s Information and Culture Directorate, Mawlawi Saif-ul-Rahman Mohammadi had told the media that the Taliban government is committed to preserve these priceless and historical monuments of the province. Local and foreign tourists can visit Bamiyan’s historical sites and Buddhas.

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But most historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists who have witnessed destruction of Bamiyan sites and attitudes about the Taliban leaders do not trust the Taliban and all their promises to safeguard Afghanistan’s heritage are just to portray their moderate image.

When Mohammadi was asked why the Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001, he justified the previous decision saying that they destroyed the Buddhas based on religious ideology in 2001.

“The Islamic Emirate did not make a hasty decision at that time (2001), it was reviewed and researched based on Islamic laws and then they destroyed them,” he said.

The 2001 destruction in Bamiyan is, by far, the most spectacular attack against the historical and cultural heritage of Afghanistan ever committed during the recent period of turmoil the country has passed through�a period that began with the Communist Coup of April 1978.

Ironically, Mullah Hasan Akhund, who executed the order of the founder of the Taliban- Mullah Omar, is now the Prime Minister of the new Taliban government. The same man is now promising to safeguard all ancient heritage of Afghanistan. During the fight for Kabul, which ended on August 15, the group had asked their fighters to “robustly protect, monitor and preserve” relics, halt illegal digs, and safeguard “all historic sites.” They have forbidden selling of artefacts in the art market. Their statement said: “No one should try to disturb such sites or think about using them for profit.”

While the words are fine, it is the Taliban’s actions that will count. So far, the Taliban has not been following promises it made in Doha that includes mainly preserving human rights, women’s rights and education and inclusive government.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

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