Destroying Cultural Heritage is an Imprescriptible Crime whose Perpetrators shall be Held Accountable
The Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) signed below deplore the continued destruction and looting of the archaeological area known as Tal al-Sakan, located in the north of Al-Zahra city in the center of the Gaza Strip, which roots back to the Canaanite civilization of the early Bronze Age, with an estimated area of (85) dunums. This destruction comes despite of the fact that the Ministry of Tourism issued a decision to stop the land-clearings immediately, as they pose a threat to the cultural heritage of the area, which is an imprescriptible crime.
Once more, the CSOs call for the cancellation of the decision issued by the State Land Commission to grant (12) dunums of the total area of the site as an alternative for entitlements accumulated since 2015 for the benefit of some senior employees, which is a blatant infringement of the Palestinian national heritage, and it deliberately compromises the history of the Palestinian people as well as their national and humanitarian heritage.
The undersigned organizations demand that all decision-makers and duty-bearers cease the ongoing crime of bulldozing the national heritage by closing the archeological area of Tal al-Sakan in order to prevent access to it or carrying out any work there, in addition to conducting an independent professional investigation to identify the perpetrators of the crime and bring them to justice in accordance with the provisions of the law.
In this position paper, the organizations call upon the relevant official authorities to take all measures to register Tal Al-Sakan area as a UNESCO world heritage site, and to enable the UNESCO to supervise it in accordance with its procedures, as this area is an integral part the Palestinian national character.
It also calls upon all citizens, CSOs and community activists to stand against this crime in order to prevent the impunity of the perpetrators; to return all of the artifacts that were unlawfully seized by force to the affected area; and to resort to all forms of legitimate popular pressure, including planning a sit-in near Tal al-Sakan area to provide protection and prevent any infringements against it.
Issued in Gaza on 18/10/2017
MUSAWA – The Palestinian Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession
The Palestinian NGOs Network (PNGO)
The General Union of Palestinian Women (GUPW)
Women’s Affairs Center
The Palestinian New Federation of Trade Unions
The International Commission to Support Palestinian People’s Rights (ICSPR)
El Wedad Society for Community Rehabilitation
The Community Media Center
Aisha Association for Women and Child Protection
The Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (PCDCR)
The National Society for Rehabilitation
The Center for Women’s Legal Research and Consulting (CWLRC)
The Palestinian Development Women Studies Association (PDWSA)
The Youth Development Association
Al-Manal Association for Rural Women Development