Troubling News of Destruction in Mali

This image taken from a video shows armed men smashing a
15th century mosque in Timbuktu on Monday

Members of an armed group in Northern Mali have committed a number of acts of destruction in Timbuktu and the surrounding areas. They have smashed the “sacred door” of one of three ancient mosques. As many as six other mausoleums have been intentionally destroyed. Intentional destruction during armed conflict presents difficult problems, and Mali has asked the international community for concrete assistance.

The first step is a threat by the ICC. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda has described this destruction as a war crime: “My message to those involved in these criminal acts is clear: stop the destruction of the religious buildings now. This is a war crime which my office has authority to fully investigate”. Her claims may have an impact, but more other concrete steps may be needed to halt this intentional destruction.

The destruction mimics that which took place in 2001 when the Bamiyan Buddhas were destroyed. Extremist groups in Mali are systematically destroying sites. Perhaps urgent action by the ICC, or better yet the United Nations Security Council can halt this systematic destruction.

From Al Jazeera, here is a report showing the destruction:

  1. Pascal Fletcher, Timbuktu tomb destroyers pulverise Islam’s history, Reuters, July 3, 2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/03/uk-mali-crisis-timbuktu-idUSLNE86202G20120703 (last visited Jul 3, 2012).
Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

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