The intervention of Patriarch Louis Sako during “The International Conference for the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Conflict areas” Abu Dhabi / The Arab United Emirates


Iraq is the ancient Mesopotamia which was the cradle of civilizations: Sumerian, Acadian, Babylonian, Chaldean, Assyrian, Persian, Jewish, Christian, and Arab Muslim. This is a national and international treasure.
There are many archeological Sites and many old churches and monasteries everywhere in Iraq, because Christians were the majority there before the arrival of Arab Muslims in 7th century.
The escalation of religious and ethnic conflict across the region demonstrates the urgent need for action on the part of the international community to protect and preserve this Cultural Heritage.
The looting of hundreds of priceless artifacts from the Iraqi National Museum followed the US invasion of Baghdad in 2003, and the Mosul Museum in mid-2014 by Islamic State extremists is a big loss. Isis jihadists started a real rampage to erase anything that pre-dated the Islamic era and everything does not fit with their ideology.
The destruction of Nabi Younis and nabi jorjis mosques, and most significant ancient sites like Nimrud and Hatra (Hadhar), and churches and monasteries and they have burnt hundreds of Manuscripts.
The international community should engage the Iraqi government and other governments in the region to ensure the preservation and protection of this multi-millennia’s patrimony and its restoration with a well-trained team.
There are some encouraging signs. Father Najib Mussa, a Dominican father founded the "Centre numérique des Manuscrits Orientaux" in Mosul in 1990 and has started to document the manuscripts of churches and monasteries, and has filmed 7500 manuscripts and he restored some damaged ones. CDs and catalogues are available in the Dominican center in Erbil.
We hope also the ancient sites, old churches, monasteries, and mosques might be slowly rebuilt in the right way.

 The situation is still unsecure and even when Isis is defeated, its ideology will continue and new conflicts can rise therefore I would like to present some practical and urgent projects.
1. To create a safe haven for the preservation and the storage of the cultural heritage in danger, with the agreement (convention), of the Iraqi government or at least to establish a monitoring office of UN to oversee it.
2. To Train Iraqi teams by experts in how to deal with this cultural heritage that has been here for thousands of years. How to document it, to protect and to restore: sites, old objects, churches, monasteries, synagogues, masques and manuscripts in a right way.
3. To equip them with modern and sophisticated tools to do such skillful work.



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