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A strategy to Protect Syrian Cultural Heritage

DAMASCUS, (ST)_ The General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums in cooperation with the United Nations Education, Scientific  and Cultural organization UNESCO  will organize on October 24th  in al-Chameyah hall of  the National Museum in Damascus  a technical workshop on Emergency Protection of Syrian Cultural Heritage to have an overview of experiences available in this field, and to strengthen and develop the skills of those working in the directorate as to how to protect movable and immovable cultural property in critical times.

According to Dr. Mamoun Abdulkarim, the Director General of Antiquities and Museums, in an exclusive interview with Syria Times reporter, Butheina al-Nounou, some 35 directorate personnel, and other three senior officials, on behalf of UNESCO, will take part in the workshop.

Most of  Aleppo 's monuments were under the fire of terrorists and huge material damage was reported when terrorist gangs hit Aleppo National Museum after a Car Explosion in Sa'ad Allah Al Jabri Square and Al Amir Hotel in Bab Jininarea , leaving also two guards and the general secretary of the museum wounded.  The damage included many broken windows in the museum, and the falling apart of the prefabricated ceiling.

Some historical buildings and shops in Aleppo ancient markets have been damaged by fire that erupted due to fierce clashes there. Reports indicated that more than 150 shops have been damaged as fire destroyed their stored goods and their new wooden doors. The damage occurred in Souk Al Zerb; Souk Al Ebi, Souk Al Atmeh; Souk Al Atareen; Souk Al Niswan; Souk Al Souf; Souk Al Sagha. Further damage was reported in many other markets that was impossible to assess due to the difficulty for persons  concerned at the Directorate of Aleppo Antiquities to reach the area for estimating and assessment of the extent of this damage.

While deploring the destruction of Aleppo 's treasury, one has to recall that Aleppo Ancient Markets bears witness to one of the most significant pages in the history of Aleppo during the Islamic Ages, with its khans, inns and shops that exceed 1500 in number constituting 39 markets that are ones of the longest covered markets in the entire world.

Nevertheless, the extent of the damage to Syrian cultural heritage can be seen as limited until now, thanks to the cooperation of the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museum and all the parties concerned along with the local communities. What has been reported by the media outlets is exaggerated and lacks objectivity and accuracy.

The General Directorate has always been committed to report any damage that may hit the historical sites in Syria with credibility and transparency. For this reason, the Directorate issues a periodic report that includes all information concerning the latest development on the ground, based on data that is regularly updated to assess and document any damage and looting that might occur to museums and archeological sites.

It can be said that all Syrian museums have been well secured, and their artifacts are safe. The most precious and rare pieces have been secured in safer places. Since the beginning of the crisis, looting has been limited to only two artifacts that are not rare pieces: a small golden statue that dates back to the Aramaic period from Hamah Museum, and a marble sculptured piece that is not of a rare archeological value.

Nevertheless,  the distant archeological sites have suffered most due to shortage of guards and the difficulty of providing the necessary protection for them, not to mention the secret excavation by looters of artifacts, a matter that is difficult to control due to the extensively rich heritage that Syria owns.  It is extremely difficult to protect more than 10000 historical sites without mobilizing and engaging the local communities, the thing which the General Directorate really relies on.

Among the sites damaged are: Andreen historical site; Busra (limited damage has hit some archeological buildings); Aphamia (it suffered random excavations, but the site is safe now); the residence of the archeological mission in Tal Saka (limited material damage); Dora Europos; Palmyra (some secret excavations were conducted, but things are under control now); Ebla (secret excavations have been contained, due to the cooperation of the local community).

Excavations in some areas are suspended currently due to the events. International sanctions have greatly affected the presence of foreign archeological missions, though heads of missions have been in constant contact with the General Directorate providing their moral support and good will in advocating the protection of Syrian cultural heritage. Some national missions, however, have been active recently in safe areas (Old Damascus, Tartous, Lattakia, Suweida) and have even discovered new artifacts and antiquities.

To eliminate damages, a strategy was set since the beginning of the crisis, the Ministry of Culture, with the Directorate and other concerned bodies, along with the local communities took many measures to provide protection to all archeological sites. Precautionary steps were taken to contain any acts of trespassing and looting of the cultural heritage, and to repair what was damaged. Rare artifacts were secured in safe places; alarm systems were installed in museums and citadels; the number of archeological guards has been increased, and the role of archeological police has been activated; and the local communities were mobilized to protect heritage in their areas, cities and villages. The more the local communities cooperate, the more protection can be provided against the looters of the invaluable Syrian cultural heritage.

 Butheina Alnounou                                                                                               This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Jgeili wins two medals in Russian Presidents' Cup

DAMASCUS, (ST) – Outstanding  Syrian weightlifter Ahid Jagili has  grabbed  two medals(silver and bronze ) in the Russian Presidents' Cup which was staged in Russia.

Jagili took a bronze medal in the clean and jerk discipline (105 kg) and a silver  in  the snatch discipline  lifting 165 kg.

In the last year's competition, Jagili won three bronze medals and qualified for the Olympic Games held in London.

Weightlifter Jagili is one of the most prominent athletes  in the history of the Syrian weightlifting sport, as he won the Asian Championship 5 times and took  two gold in the Mediterranean Games held in Italy in 2009.

He has been the Arab Champion since 2002.

The Russian Presidents' Cup is branded as one of the strongest international competitions, as the best  weightlifters across the globe took part.

Sh/Kh

My Story with Writing

 

 

 

Today, my memory returned to the time when I held the pen for the first time. I began to draw unknown and meaningless things expressing what I felt but I did not really know what they were.

 Overlapping lines that darken the white paper and many directives urging me to hold the pen in a good way characterized the beginnings of my writing. I knew how to hold the pen and write. I knew the value of what I write when I worked in the press and the people read my words. I experienced a new world and a new life when I started working in the Syria Times Newspaper. I wrote for the sake of writing, not because of studying and memorizing, knowing that people will read what I wrote and this makes me very happy.

 The most beautiful days of my life were spent during my work in the newspaper, but my happiness did not last because our newspaper was, due to technical reasons, closed on June 8 2008. 

  So once again, I began to write and notify my words on my pages to read them alone.

Fortunately, after a period of time, our dear daily was re-launched again. It was on October 6 2012 at the directive of the Syrian Minister of Information, Mr. Omran

al-Zou'bi. I was very happy when I received the good news. So from now on my pen will write news and articles which will be read by people all over the world.

When I knew that the newspaper will be re-launched via the web, I was very sad and I felt that my joy will not be completed. I used to read a lot of publications through the Internet during the past few years, but I consider that my relationship with the paper is stronger and more intimate

  .I was so sad, but when I think about it, I realized that a lot of people do not  read the "paper copy" of the newspapers, any more, they, instead take the news and all the information they want from the Internet.

 I don't really know whether our feelings and emotions can be expressed deeper and more truthful across the internet than on paper. What I really know is that my love to paper and pen exceeds my love for any thing else.  It is true that the e- publishing has larger number of readers and spread wider but paper will not lose its intimacy and warmth.

 Writing at the beginning was nothing but images and forms painted on rocks and walls of the caves and on large stones .Writing has evolved to be written in letters of special type such as the Cuneiform writing. When man invented papers the relationship between man and papers and ink continues for thousands of years.

From the beginning, the beautiful script is the basic means that distinguishes writers and the sanctity of writing, makes it restricted to a small number of people or priests or temples.

 At present, I feel as if time were repeating itself. In the electronic publishing we read from a hard and lifeless object is but a different kind, as writing is changed.

"You must keep pace with the civilization of electronic publishing, as they say, and that you have to have your own computer to read what the other  write". It is true that if you own the tools and technology of modern age, you can find thousands, even millions of publications now, but you will never have that kind of privacy that paper-writing can give .You have the right to own what you read and keep it in the libraries that adorn the homes of a large number of our fathers. One may say that he who owns the money was luckier to read more and to learn more. Now, during the internet age, science and knowledge have become more common and more prevalent. It is true, but the smell of paper and ink and the aesthetic of the printed characters will remain my greatest love.

 

Amal Farhat

 

 

 

Mrs. Ashton! What do you want from us?

 

 

 

The European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, underscored on Monday, October 15th, 2012, that the EU shares Russia's vision to solve the crisis in Syria peacefully! Good! What then? Would EU members, especially France, Britain and Germany, end their support to the ongoing violence in Syria, mainly caused by their ''non-lethal'' s? Or would they lift their unjust, arbitrary and inhumane sanctions, the last of which were yesterday, imposed on the Syrians?! One can't to but to be caught in a dilemma, Mrs. Ashton! What do you want from us?

In the same statement of yesterday, Ashton added that we reviewed with Lavrov the latest developments in Syria and stressed the need to seek a peaceful solution and support the mission of UN Envoy Lakhdar Ibrahimi, asserting that the EU comprehends Russia's concern, particularly concerning the deterioration of relations between Turkey and Syria, stressing the necessity to stop violence inside Syria and not to allow this violence to spread. In fact, Ashton herself stated following the June 30th  held Geneva meeting that the agreement reached then offered ''concrete points for action'' and expressed hope that  it would ''help bring about an end to violence and launch a political process in Syria and led by Syrians." A clarification is needed here, what does Ashton mean by Syrians? We are Syrians, and the majority by all calculations. The majority is united with its army, and leadership in defending Syria against every form of foreign-backed armed terrorist groups.

On June 30th, 2012, the Foreign Ministers of the five UN Permanent Security Council members; Russia, USA, China, Britain and France in addition to Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey and Qatar, the UN Secretary General and Ashton herself participated in the convened Action Group meeting in Geneva. The participants concluded an agreement- though some of the points were in need for more clarifications-; it can be considered a basic one as to put an end to the crisis in Syria.

Geneva meeting statement was welcomed by almost every country worldwide, apart from the hypocrite politicians who did welcome, but left no stone unturned as to misinterpret and abort it.

 The veteran Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergei Lavrov, whose great country has played the fundamental role in the wording of the statement, pointed out that  Geneva statement imposed nothing on the Syrian people, placed no preconditions on the political process or national dialogue, affirmed the basic principles of democratic countries, including respect for human rights and the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, and stressed the need for free and democratic elections as to  achieve a peaceful solution that takes the interests of all Syrians into consideration.

 Minister Lavrov, more frank, transparent and courageous than his other counterparts in the meeting- some of whom openly declared their ill-intentions against Syria, particularly those of France, the USA, Qatar and Turkey-  blasted the armed groups operating in Syria and the countries sponsoring them as to  spread violence, and carry out  attacks against  administrative facilities, government and private properties.

 

 Syria, on her part, did welcome Geneva meeting statement: an official source at the Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry pointed out that the statement urged for an end to violence and human rights violations, disarming the armed groups, non-militarization of the situation in Syria, protection of civilians and launching a Syrian-led political process and national dialogue. Actually, by then and long before Geneva meting, Syria has launched scores of dialogue sessions and cabinet reshuffles. For Syria, according to the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry source, Geneva statement includes positive points, particularly its commitment to Syria's sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, not to mention its recognition that the Syrian People were the sole decision-makers in determining their future without foreign interference. However, and as facts on the ground prove, the crisis in Syria is but the result of overt and covert, lethal and non-lethal, if to say, foreign interference.

 On his part, Chinese Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi, underlined that the participants in Geneva meeting  did reiterate their respect for the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, and the need for a political transition to be led by the Syrian people, pointing out that the mentioning of the "transitional governing body" was designed to provide constructive assistance to a political transition process led by the Syrian People- of course NOT by Turkey, whose Foreign minister, has lost his mind, nor by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, France,  or the USA.

 

Dr. Mohammad Abdo Al-Ibrahim  

 

 

 

 

Lavrov calls for western countries commitment to Geneva Statement

 

 Ashton: EU shares Russia's vision to solve the crisis in Syria peacefully

 LUXEMBOURG, (ST)_ The European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, said on Monday that the EU shares Russia's vision to solve the crisis in Syria peacefully.

 "We reviewed with Lavrov the latest developments in Syria and stressed the need to seek a peaceful solution and support the mission of UN Envoy Lakhdar Ibrahimi," Ashton said

 She said that the EU comprehends Russia's concern, particularly concerning the deterioration of relations between Turkey and Syria, stressing the necessity to stop violence inside Syria and not to allow this violence to spread.

 Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on the western countries to adhere to Geneva statement as  to solve the crisis in Syria.

 During his meeting with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, and Foreign Ministers of the EU, Lavrov told reporters in Luxembourg, that the only way to avoid increased internationalization of the crisis in Syria will be through commitment to Geneva statement."

 Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on the western countries to adhere to Geneva statement as  to solve the crisis in Syria.

During his meeting with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, and Foreign Ministers of the EU, Lavrov told reporters in Luxembourg, that the only way to avoid increased internationalization of the crisis in Syria will be through commitment to Geneva statement."

 

Sh/ Kh