As the Islamic faction heaping destruction on the heritage of Mali continued despite appeals by the international community including UNESCO, the Ambassadors to UNESCO meeting in St Petersburg met in one of the main squares of St Petersburg to give support to Mali and to request the immediate cessation of the destruction taking place.
The Ambassadors, led by former Franch Ambassador to Malta Daniel Rondeau now Ambassador to UNESCO, made a very strong condemnation of what is happening in Mali. Accompanied by the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Diallo Fadimo Toure, who is also attending the World Heritage Committee meeting in St Petersburg, the Ambassadors called for the worlds governments and international organisations ‘not to allow vandals to wipe out historical monuments’ in the city of Timbuctu in Mali. The appeal was done in front of the international press in various languages. Among the Ambassadors present was also Dr Ray Bondin, Malta’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to unesco [see photo].
Despite these appeals Muslim extremists continued to destroy tombs and attacking ancient mosques. They said they did not recognise UNESCO or any other organisation. ‘The only tribunal we recognize is the divine court of Shariah’ said a spokesman for the rebels.
The UNESCO meeting in st Petersburg was very much dominated by the situation in Mali as the international community followed the events in Mali whilst at the same time listening to the reports coming in to the Minister of Culture and Tourism present in the meeting as well as at the Head of Timbuctu Heritage, Ali Ouldi Sidi, also present. During the meeting UNESCO accepted the request of the Government of Mali to place Timbuctu on the list of World Heritage in Danger.
Malta’s Ambassador held a private meeting with the Mali Minister offering the full support of the Government of Malta to the Government of Mali. On her part the Minister thanked Malta’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Tonio Borg, for his support in this difficult moment for the country which is practically divided now in two areas. The heritage of Timbuctu includes the most ancient Muslim manuscripts in the African world and the most important mosques.