Letter to UNESCO Director-General Urging Concrete Action to Stop Israel's Destruction of Ancient Muslim Cemetery

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February 13, 2013 - Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) sent a letter to UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova urging her to take concrete action to stop Israel's continued destruction of the ancient Mamilla Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.  The letter comes two years after CCR and the Campaign to Preserve Mamilla Jerusalem Cemetery submitted complaints to several UN officials about the human rights violations committed in the disinterment of hundreds of human remains from the cemetery to make way for a "Museum of Tolerance" built by the L.A.-based Simon Wiesenthal Center.  UNESCO and other UN bodies have failed to take any measurable steps to stop what even an Israeli archaeologist that headed the excavation of the cemetery called an "archaeological crime." Construction on the cemetery site was recently renewed, and structures are quickly being erected where layers of human remains were dug up, and possibly still lay.   

The letter to Bokova highlights the irony of the Director-General's recent statements decrying the desecration of Sufi tombs in Mali, as compared with UNESCO's disregard for the desecration of this centuries-old and much-revered cemetery in the heart of Jerusalem.  Whereas she pledged to "reconstruct the mausoleums [in Mali] as soon as possible," and asserted the importance of such sites "to the future of the Malian people, their dignity and their pride," affirming that "If you let this disappear, it would be a crime against all of humanity," Bokova has failed to make any public statement or put any pressure on Israel for its unabashed bulldozing of one of the most important cemeteries in Islamic and Palestinian history.  The letter therefore asks that Bokova "demand publicly that Israel desist from...desecration of Palestinian and Muslim cultural and religious rights."  
 
To read the full letter, click here.