While Al Houthi Militia Loots History, Yemen Fights Back
Abdul Hadi Al Azazi, Yemen’s deputy culture minister, recalls standing two years ago amidst the debris of a national museum in his war-torn hometown, Taiz.
Objects he used to admire as a youngster consisted of ancient limestone carvings, adorned Torah scrolls, bejeweled Islamic daggers, a 2,500-year-old mummy, etc were missing amidst the burnt rubble and display cases. He stated that the museum was demolished and everything was stolen.
As the human suffering in war-ravaged Yemen has drawn global attention, few noticed that the cultural institutions and archaeological relics were either lost or ravaged during the battle, which includes thousands of antiquities taken from the museum of Yemen.
In an attempt to restore some of the items, Yemeni officials visited Washington and New York over the past days to ask the Trump administration and the United Nations to help them averting the strewing of a heritage that stretches back to almost 4,000 years.
Their central request is that the United State circulates an emergency order that would prohibit importation of Yemeni relics that do not carry special documents.
Usually, antiquities from abroad cannot enter the nation without records mandated in one-on-one deal between the country of origin and the United States. As Yemen is not party to any such deal, its relics simply need to be mentioned at customs in a routine way.
The Saudi-supported Yemeni government wishes the United States will enforce new rules that would require importers to provide proof that the objects had been legally procured. The proof could be in the form of a government approval or documents proving that the items had a well-established origin trail dating from before the civil war.
Yemen was a crib to many civilizations and a home to many faiths, especially Judaism, Christianity and Islam, which all flourished here, Yemen’s culture minister, Marwan Dammaj, stated. He condemned the looting as “a gross affront to humanity at large.”