Thursday, 24 July 2014

Iraq: Mind your Sources

Dr. Saad Eskander (Head of the Iraqi Delegation to the Inter-governmental Committee for Promoting the Return of the Cultural Property (UNESCO) & Director General of the Iraq National Library and Archives) has just p[osted this on the iraq Crisis mailing list:
Dear All Ignorance is playing a part in the destruction of Iraqi cultural heritage. By this I do not only mean the blood thirsty ISIS' fighters but also those who falsify the events taken place in Mosul, namely the official propaganda machine, senior officials at the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, some representatives of the Iraqi Christian community inside and outside the country, and some amateur journalists, local and foreign alike. I see any act of falsification as an encouragement to ISIS to committee more crimes against both the minorities and Iraqi cultural heritage. Wrong actions and false statements will certainly lead to the maximization of the damages inflicted upon our people and our culture. I ask you not to publish anything before making sure that the information is well documented or based on reliable sources.
As if to reinforce that within an hour, the UN was reporting false information (again)

Eight days after he contacted her on the matter UNESCO's Nada Al-Hassan tells "Mr" (recte Dr) Sam Hardy (in an email copied by her to me):
The mistake in the Sunday Time article you mentioned was signalled to them as soon as Mr Barford wrote to us and immediately corrected in the online version. I take this opportunity to also inform Mr Barford. Thank you for contacting us on this issue.
Anyone got access to the corrected version of "Loot, sell, bulldoze: Isis grinds history to dust"? The printed version contains the same story (was that corrected in print in the next issue?) and the online version currently has the picture of the stele, captioned: "Isis has imposed a 'tax' on looted antiquities in the vast region of Syria and Iraq it controls (Bonhams)", even though it has no connection whatsoever with ISIS... So that does not look much like a correction to me. The versions of the text quoting UNESCO's World Heritage Centre Arab States Unit Chief which are currently floating around the Internet seem not to have taken note of the correction. I suppose that's what you get for talking to foreign newspapers that shield your words behind revenue-generating paywalls, not everyone in the public gets the full story.

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