Crime, Punishment and Reconstruction in Timbuktu

26 Oct 2015 1:09 PM | Anonymous

Crime, Punishment and Reconstruction in Timbuktu

By Shalini Iyengar and Sukrit Rajesh Kapoor on 26/10/2015

On September 26, 2015 Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, an alleged member of the Ansar Eddine militia group, was transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to stand trial for the “war crimes of intentionally directing attacks against historic monuments and buildings dedicated to religion” in Timbuktu, Mali in 2012. This marks the first attempt by the ICC to prosecute an individual for the war crime of destroying cultural heritage.

Sadly, the wanton destruction witnessed in Timbuktu is far from being the first or even the most egregious example of a “crime against culture” – a phrase used to describe the destruction of the legendary Afghan Bamiyan statues in 2001. Other infamous examples of cultural destruction in the context of armed conflict include the actions of ISIS in Palmyra and other places, blowing up of the spiral minaret of Samara in Iraq in 2005 as well as the shelling of the Krak des Chevaliers castle in Syria on multiple occasions.

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