Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Turkish Writer Quits UNESCO to Protest Damage to Heritage, Rights Abuse | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55351464

Concrete blocks are placed next to the historical city walls at the main entrance of Sur district, which is partially under curfew, in the Kurdish-dominated southeastern city of Diyarbakir, Turkey March 17, 2016. REUTERS/Sertac Kayar

Turkey’s goodwill ambassador to the UN cultural agency UNESCO resigned on Thursday, accusing it of hypocrisy in overlooking the damage of major big parts of a heritage site throughout clashes between the Turkish army and militants in his country’s mainly Kurdish southeast.

The city of Diyarbakir’s Sur district was registered as an UNESCO World Heritage site in July 2015 with Roman-era basalt walls surrounding historic churches, synagogues, mosques and houses. However few weeks later, a Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) ceasefire failed and an armed campaign reignited.

Sur witnessed some of the severest fighting and has been under military lockdown since December.

“As the demolition of history is taking place in Sur, hypocrisy dominated the (Istanbul) World Humanitarian Summit,” said Livaneli, in tendering his resignation from United Nations cultural agency on Thursday, accusing the government of violating human rights.

“To pontificate on peace while remaining silent against such violations is a contradiction of the fundamental ideals of UNESCO,” he added. Noting that the latter had held the goodwill post to promote UNESCO values since 1996.

This week’s U.N. humanitarian summit in Istanbul, to be the 1st of its kind having 55 heads of state and government, in hope to raise funds and political will to tackle the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two, with 130 million people displaced by war and natural disasters.

Large areas of Sur on the banks of the Tigris River have been bulldozed, along with historic monuments that bear battle scars.

Works including “Bliss” by Livaneli have been translated into at least 37 languages. He is also one of Turkey’s most popular singers.

A leftist, he served for three years as a lawmaker in the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) before quitting in 2005 to protest party’s “authoritarian” politics