By: Tamjid Alkohali
Unfortunately, the most important thing that Yemen owns which is “antiquities” exposed to frequent robberies. Museums in Yemen suffered and they are still suffering from several problems. From one side, most of them are closed in front of their visitors for security and administrative reasons, and from the other, they are exposed to the looting and stealing of their antiquities and historical treasures. Among this there are many people now whom worry to lose civilized stocks of their country if the situation continues to go on like this.
This past March, unknown thieves could steal a big number of antiquities from al-Mukalla museum that is located in the Palace of Sultan Qu’aiti in al-Mukalla city, adding to other robberies at spaced intervals.
One of these antiquities is the Throne chair of Sultan, which represents the most important sample for the Qu’aiti state. At that time, the General Authority for work prepared a special file of the stolen antiquities to submit it to the International Police (Interpol) to cooperate in restoring them.
The museum of Aden was not any more blessed than al-Mukalla’s museum, a robbery took place in which some thieves looted a rare and unique collection of Romania gold coins as well as stealing the antiquities from the museums in Abyan and Lahij governorates.
The looting of antiquities didn’t stop in the southern areas, it also arrived to the northern areas as well where unknown thieves have stolen from al-Sadah’s museum in the Ibb governorate.
Finally, in the national museum in Sana’a, thieves stole three manuscripts and seven archeological Swords on the 12th of October last year. The robbery discovered by an important foreign visitor on the second day of Eid al-Adha.
Therefore, looting the antiquities became one of the important issues in the national dialogue conference. For this issue, the NDC has produced many outputs to handle this issue from all its sides in order to stop stealing the country’s civilization. One of these outputs is to create high council to produce the antiquities and the historical cities instead of Antiquities Authority, including specialists Archaeologists, and independent financially and administratively.
The Chairman of the rights and freedoms in NDC Arwa Othman said to National Yemen newspaper that Antiquities is an integral part of national sovereignty, so the violation of archaeological sites, the tampering on the Antiquities, or smuggling it considers a violation to national sovereignty, to Yemen’s national security, and also to the rights of the Yemeni people and for the rights of future generations.
In the same context, Chairman of the cultural and intellectual Committee of the NDC, Abdullah Nasher, emphasized the importance of antiquities stating that the history and civilization of Yemen dating back thousands of years, Yemen has stockpiles of heritage and antiquities that can bring great wealth and limitless popularity if it is used well in tourism.
“However, though of this importance in Yemeni antiquities there isn’t a real interest or protection for it. So, they found the issue of stealing and looting the antiquities as an important issue to be discussed in their team, which are the rights and freedoms team.” Nasher added.
For the importance of antiquities, one of the rights and freedoms’ output are that “Antiquities are a national treasure which mustn’t be violated in any place in the world also, Antiquities should be managed through state authorities in partnership with the local council and the people of the areas where the Antiquities are in.”
Furthermore, Othman from her side put some reasons from her point of view, she explained there are many reasons for the spread of the phenomenon of looting and stealing the country’s antiquities, first, the applicable law for the smuggling of antiquities isn’t strong enough to protect the antiquities, also it makes judicial authority which do not care on the danger of the smuggling of antiquities as well as the lack of security which creates a suitable atmosphere to smuggle the antiquities. In addition to the degraded economic situation and the lack of awareness of the importance of these historical treasures push officials of the archaeological sites to sell those antiquities in their hands.
On the other hand, Nasher said that “he is so optimistic to resolve this problem. During the period of discussing this issue, they don’t face any disabilities or objections either from the members of the team itself or from outside. Fortunately, all are aware of the importance of cultural heritage and the problem of abusing it.
The discussion wasn’t only with the team’s members, the team joined experts and professors in the field of antiquities and history to discuss with them the outputs of the NDC.
The outputs of the NDC about the issue of Antiquities and historic cities are a great deal, they include the importance of protecting the Cultural heritage from the looting and thefts, the outputs also decided sanctions for any one whom violates country’s civilization and history, adding to the importance of maintaining it and restoring it from anywhere on the earth.