Minister of State Cornelia Pieper issued the following statement in Berlin today (2 July) on the situation in Mali and the destruction of Timbuktu’s Islamic heritage:
What’s going on in north-eastern Mali is a terrible tragedy. Since the start of the Tuareg revolt in January, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes, and have faced violence and starvation.
The German Government demands an immediate end to the violence in northern Mali. We firmly support the efforts of the West African regional organization ECOWAS to find a political solution for Mali and to restore the territorial integrity of the country.
At the weekend several holy shrines in Timbuktu were desecrated and destroyed. The wanton destruction of these priceless and irreplaceable African historical and cultural treasures in a UNESCO World Heritage Site is deeply shocking and is strongly condemned by the German Government. We call on those responsible to stop this crime immediately.
On 21-22 March, President Amadou Toumani Touré of Mali was overthrown by a coup. The resulting power vacuum was used by Tuareg groups and Islamist forces to advance to the Niger. They declared an independent state called Azawad on 7 April 2012. Shortly thereafter, on 17 April 2012, a transitional government that seeks to restore Mali’s territorial integrity was established in Bamako.
Timbuktu is situated on the edge of the Sahara and is also known as the city of 333 saints and the pearl of the desert. Since 1988, the city has been on the UN cultural organization’s World Heritage List.