Ten nations from across the world came together on 24 April 2017 to form a group with the aim of protecting ancient heritage from extremism like that of the Islamic State, which led to the destruction of Syria’s ancient city, Palmyra.
The forum was launched in Athens, the capital city of Greece, by ministers and ambassadors from all the ten nations. The list includes India, Greece, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Bolivia, Peru, Italy, China and Mexico, all of which are home to some of the world’s greatest archaeological sites.
The group would mainly run joint projects to promote dialogue and culture in the face of fanaticism and terrorism. The project will be spearheaded by the Greek government along with China.
• Extremists from the Islamic State groups gained control over the monumental ruins of Palmyra in May 2015.
• The occupation of the city was followed by destruction of many of its monuments.
• Though Syrian and Russian forces reclaimed the city from the extremist group in March 2016, they lost it again in December 2016.
• The militants not only rampaged the city’s heritage but also blew up some of its ancient structures including a 2000-year-old Temple of Bel, tetrapylon (a collection of monumental pillars) and a part of Roman theatre along with other priceless artefacts.
• The IS also destroyed the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in Iraq using bulldozers and explosives and looted and plundered the pre-Islamic treasures preserved in a museum in Iraq’s Mosul city.
• Other UNESCO recognised sites that suffered destruction at the hands of terrorists include Bamiyan in Afghanistan where the Taliban blew up the Buddha statues and the ancient city of Timbuktu in Mali where extremists destroyed mausoleums and shrines.
The 10-nation group is due to meet again in 2018 in Bolivia
Speaking on the development, Iraq’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari stated that the project stood in contrast to the idea put forward by several intellectuals of a clash of civilisations.