Twelve art professional associations have joined in a concerted effort to prevent the trafficking of Afghan cultural heritage into the Western market after the Taliban took control of the country.

Organizations in the United States and across Europe have pledged to redouble their vigilance to avoid unintentionally facilitating illicit archaeological activity and looting, and to repeat the cultural devastation of the last time the group took control of the country 20 years ago.

“The art trade must be prepared to do what it can to ensure that no illicit cultural property from Afghanistan ends up on the market,” said a statement co-signed by the 12 organizations. Of the industry. “To this end, as professional associations, we will continue to alert our members and others to the increased risks involved. “

The effort was coordinated by Erika Bochereau, Secretary General of the International Confederation of Art Negotiators (CINOA), and was supported by associations such as Art and Antique Dealers League of America, the International Association of Merchants of Ancient Art, as well as major industry associations from the UK, France, Italy, Czech Republic, Spain and Germany. “We will continue to support law enforcement by publishing information on stolen and trafficked items to prevent them from entering the market,” the letter continued.

Bochereau told Artnet News that so far none of their members have been contacted by anyone offering to sell Afghan cultural artifacts. “We will continue to monitor the situation,” she said, adding that the organizations that co-signed the letter will warn their members and encourage them to report to the police if they are approached to sell these artifacts.

As the Taliban pledged to protect Afghanistan’s cultural heritage sites and prevent looting, many fear a already seen of the horror that shocked the world the last time the group took control of the country. There have already been reports of looting of the Afghan national archives, and the Taliban blew up the statue of an ethnic minority leader in August.

It was estimated that Afghanistan lost about half of its cultural heritage two decades ago under the Taliban rule. One of the most shocking attacks was the deliberate destruction of two historic 6th-century Buddhas in Bamiyan, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in 2001. UNESCO said the Taliban had committed a “crime against culture “at the time. In August, the organization’s chief executive, Audrey Azoulay, called for the protection of cultural heritage from damage and looting in the country.

The joint statement signed by the 12 professional associations also warned of the risk that illicit excavation of artefacts poses for important archaeological sites. “Allowing such artifacts to enter the market compromises the legitimate art and antiques market and runs counter to the professional and ethical standards of our trade associations, which are reflected in our written codes,” a- he declared.

Art trade associations have also urged governments to be careful of returning artifacts to Afghanistan now that they have come under Taliban control. “The current acting interior minister is Sirajuddin Haqqani, a terrorist wanted by the FBI and with a bounty of up to $ 10 million on his head,” the letter said.

It is worth noting that the joint effort does not include any merchants from Asia, which has a large market for fine arts and antiques. Bochereau said that although CINOA has members in Europe, the United States, South Africa and Australia, it does not have close contacts with the Asian market or the major associations of Asian art dealers that ‘he could have contacted to sign the letter. But she added that the organization is “open to collaboration”.

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