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Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
2 March 2001
Destruction of Buddhist Statues in Afghanistan
I call on Afghanistan's ruling Taliban to heed international calls to protect ancient Buddhist statues in that country.
The Taliban's leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, has ordered all statues in Afghanistan to be destroyed.
The 2000-year-old statues in the Bamian Province of Afghanistan are of outstanding cultural and spiritual significance, not just for Afghanistan, but for the international community as a whole.
I urge the Taliban to heed earlier calls by UNESCO and a number of other governments to exercise religious and cultural tolerance by ensuring the safety of these historical treasures.
Inquiries: Matt Francis (Ministerial) 02 62777 500/
Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 2534