Yemeni archeological sites must be protected, urge academics

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Any official proved to be involved in archeology crimes must be removed from his position and charged with the crime of defiling Yemen’s historical identity and cultural heritage, stated one of the recommendations that participants agreed on during a symposium called “The Protection of Yemen’s Archeology and the Preservation of its Civilization Heritage,” organized by the Progress and Advancement Forum on Sunday.

Under the sponsorship of Yahya Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, Chairmen of the Forum, academics, intellectuals and media figures asked the establishment for a court specialized in archeology crimes, and called urged members of the antiquities’ protection bodies to impose disciplinary action against every official in the state, be they civilian or military, involved in any archeology-related crime.

The participants also recommended reviewing all pending issues related to archeology, which are still under judicial proceedings. “The government must give the issue of Yemen’s archeology protection a status of permanent priority. It is also urgent to restore all robbed antiquities that have been smuggled abroad, through internationally recognized means.

The Ministries of Culture, Tourism and Information, local administration, education and civil society organizations that participated in the forum, commissioned to prepare proposals for the draft amendments to some articles of the Protection Archeology Law. The protection law issued in 1994 and amended in 1997 as well as the new amendments, should submit to the government to complete the legal and constitutional procedures for approval.

The amendments must have stringent items criminalizing all who were found guilty of any crimes tampering archeology, distortion, smuggle, trade or concealment. “Such crimes classified as big crimes that require physical harsh and deterrent punishment,” confirmed the Forum’s participants.

The participants called for two new colleges, of Archeology and Tourism, to be set up in the provinces of Marib and Hadhramout to attract people from the two provinces and other provinces to study and train in archaeology and preservation. The establishment of the two colleges aims to raise younger generations’ awareness of historical monuments and cultural heritage of Yemen.

The Forum also requested the inclusion in the curricula of primary and secondary education subjects treating the importance of Yemeni archeology, taking into account the different age’s levels.

They also demanded primary education curricula on Yemeni archeology, inclusion of archaeology in the history curriculum at all Yemeni universities, and the establishment of archaeological trips for students from schools and universities.

Recommendations of the forum noted the need for media organizations, governmental press institutions and newspapers to make programs and activities aimed at sensitizing the community about the importance of archeology, cultural heritage and the history of Yemen. This is in order to promote and define them to the world, and expose all the damage of crimes against antiquities.

“This is priceless wealth, and we must work to identify, classify and index these artifacts in Yemen and account for them abroad, working to recover them according to international laws and norms,” Saleh said. “We also must provide appropriate material, scientific and human resources, possibilities to conduct exploration and research to discover as much as possible from Yemeni civilization and creativity,” he added.

The symposium was attended by Mohammed Abu Bakr al-Maflahi, Minister of Culture, Nabil al-Faqeeh, Minister of Tourism, Abdul-Aziz Bin Habtoor, Deputy of Education Minister, and Dr. Abdullah Bawazer, chairman of the General Authority of Antiquities and Museums.

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