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Houthis Tamper With Yemeni Manuscripts, Govt Calls on UNESCO to Interfere

Houthis Tamper With Yemeni Manuscripts, Govt Calls on UNESCO to Interfere

Saturday, 4 April, 2020 - 07:15
A view of the historical Radda castle, overtaken by al Qaeda militants, southeast of Sanaa, Yemen January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah
Aden, Sanaa - Asharq Al-Awsat

The Yemeni government has accused the Houthis of tampering with old manuscripts, seizing databases, dismissing employees qualified to preserve antiquities and replacing them with non-specialists and loyalists to the group.

Government’s accusations of the militias came in an official statement issued by the Ministry of Culture, which warned “against attempts to tamper with the manuscripts of the Great Mosque in Sanaa,” and called on UNESCO to intervene to put an end to the “Houthi systematic behavior."

The government accused Houthi leaders of “marginalizing the administrative and technical staff of the manuscripts house and tampering with its contents, in addition to attempting to seize rare manuscripts and databases.”

The Ministry of Culture called on the concerned international organizations, mainly the UNESCO, to assume their role in preserving the Yemeni cultural heritage.

It stressed that UNESCO had a direct role to preserve the cultural heritage of countries in armed conflicts, especially that Yemen was a signatory to all relevant international agreements.

The ministry said it “hopes that UNESCO will supervise and pressure the Houthi authorities to maintain the safety of the manuscripts.”

Activists and government sources have confirmed that the pro-Iranian group, since its coup against the legitimate government, has looted and smuggled antiques, historical manuscripts, artifacts and collections dating back thousands of years BC, in an organized manner through the land and maritime ports of Yemen.

The Yemeni government had previously accused the Houthi militia of smuggling many artifacts to fund its plans, destroying many historical sites under its control.

In this regard, well-informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the militias were excavating historical and archaeological mosques in Sanaa and other areas, that contain huge amounts of manuscripts and represent the history of Yemen over the past centuries.

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