Timbuktu shrine destruction a 'war crime'

2012-07-02 12:04

Bamako - Islamist rebels in northern Mali smashed four more tombs of ancient Muslim saints in Timbuktu on Sunday as the International Criminal Court warned their campaign of destruction was a war crime.

The hardline Islamists who seized control of Timbuktu along with the rest of northern Mali three months ago, consider the shrines to be idolatrous and have wrecked seven tombs in two days.

Mali's government and the international community have expressed horror and outrage at the destruction of cultural treasures in the fabled city, an ancient desert crossroads and centre of learning known as the "City of 333 Saints".

"My message to those involved in these criminal acts is clear: stop the destruction of the religious buildings now," ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told AFP in an interview in Dakar.

"This is a war crime which my office has authority to fully investigate."

She said that Mali was signatory to the Rome Statute which established the ICC, which states in Article 8 that deliberate attacks against undefended civilian buildings which are not military objectives are a war crime.

"This includes attacks against historical monuments as well as destruction of buildings dedicated to religion," said Bensouda.

On Saturday the Islamists destroyed the tombs of Sidi Mahmoud, Sidi Moctar and Alpha Moya, and on Sunday attacked four more including Cheikh el-Kebir's mausoleum as residents stood by helplessly.

Crying "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest), the men carrying chisels and hoes smashed the tombs.

"There are many of us watching them destroy the mausoleum. It hurts but we can't do anything. These madmen are armed, we can't do anything but they will be cursed that is for sure," a journalist said on condition of anonymity.

He said the destruction at the Djingareyber cemetery ended in the late afternoon, with four tombs in total destroyed. The Islamists also destroyed earthenware jars and other artifacts around the tombs.

The cemetery is situated in the south of Timbuktu in the suburb of the eponymous Djingareyber mosque built from mud in 1327.

  • badballie - 2012-07-02 12:28

    Because when the UN speaks everybody listens hey?, when will the UN learn that it can talk and demand as much as it likes, its history is one of late intervention if at all and of leaving any country it has ever had troops in a desolate wasteland in need of years of rehabilitation and hardship just to get back to where it was when the UN showed up.

      richard.hipkin - 2012-07-02 13:10

      What??? So you saying before the UN moves in these countries are merely play fighting? That refugee camps are just disgruntled rural dwellers seeking a better life? That women mass raped by rebels is "cause they asked for it..."? That mutilations are custom? That child soldiers is what we all aspire our children to be? What kind of close minded twit are you?

  • zaatheist - 2012-07-02 13:27

    Usual stuff. One bunch of brainwashed, brain addled sky daddy believers attack and destroy the artefacts of another bunch of brainwashed, brain addled sky daddy believers. Truly, religion is a mental illness and a stain on humanity.

      Clive - 2012-07-02 13:53

      How about a bit of respect and tolerance towards those who see things differently to what you do? So you're OK with church/mosque killings simply because the victims were belivers in something that you can't accept?

      zaatheist - 2012-07-02 14:35

      @Clive All people deserve respect, but not all ideas do. I don’t respect the idea that a man was born of a virgin, walked on water and rose from the dead. I don’t respect the idea that we should follow a "Prophet" who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn’t follow him. Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions.– Thomas Jefferson

      Clive - 2012-07-02 14:58

      I hear what you say, but please also respect the fact that billions of people DO accept these beliefs, as crazy as they might appear to you and many others. I won't call you brain-addled because I differ from you; please tolerate those with opposing views. People don't deserve to be killed because some lunatic fringe of another religion sees things differently to them - that I'm sure we can agree on.

      zaatheist - 2012-07-02 15:27

      Clive When people destroy something for no better reason than they believe that an imaginary god approves of their action I will stick with brainwashed and brain addled. There is no common sense. No common humanity in that.

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