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Information on the looting and burning of Iraq's National Library and National Archives

Information on the looting and burning of Iraq's National Library and National Archives, following the destruction of most of the contents of the National Museum is available on the (Australian) ABC website at http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/s831324.htm.

I am attending an emergency meeting, called by the Director General of UNESCO, to be held in paris on Thursday 17th April 2003 to discuss the best ways of responding to the desperate situation arising from the looting and destruction of cultural property.

From the New York Times:
[...] Among other buildings afire or still smoldering in eastern Baghdad today were the city hall, the Agriculture Ministry and so thoroughly burned that heat still radiated 50 paces from its front doors the National Library. Not far from the National Museum of Iraq, which was looted on Thursday and Friday with the loss of almost all of its store of 170,000 artifacts, the library was considered another of the repositories of an Iraqi civilization dating back at least 7,000 years.

By tonight, virtually nothing was left of the library and its tens of thousands of old manuscripts and books, and of archives like Iraqi newspapers tracing the country's turbulent history from the era of Ottoman rule through to Mr. Hussein. Reading rooms and the stacks where the collections were stored were reduced to smoking vistas of blackened rubble.

Across the street, a lone American tank roared out of the monumental gates of the Defense Ministry, untouched by the looters presumably because they knew that the ministry, at least, would be under close guard by American troops. Almost as much as the civilian casualties from American bombs and tanks, the destruction of the museum and the library has ignited passions against American troops, for their failure to intervene. How far these passions offset the widespread jubilation at the toppling of Mr. Hussein is impossible to tell, in part because of the differing views within the population. [...]

New York Times on the web: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/14/international/worldspecial/14BAGH.html?pagewanted=2

We will post more information as it becomes avaialable.

Ross Shimmon
Secretary General


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International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions