Destruction of Muslim Shrines in Timbuktu

Press Statement
Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 11, 2012

The United States strongly condemns the destruction of Muslim shrines and other religious and historic sites in Timbuktu by Islamic militants, including Ansar al-Dine. We are outraged by the continued destruction of these World Heritage Sites and the ongoing intimidation of local populations. We join UNESCO in urging an immediate end to these destructive and irreversible acts and call for all parties to protect this invaluable cultural heritage for future generations. This is an assault not just on Mali but on the heritage of all Africans, and those responsible for these acts should be brought to justice.

We remain deeply concerned about the situation of the Malian people. Mali has been a strong partner of the United States in the areas of democracy and governance, economic development, and peace and security. We support the on-going efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union to bring about a return to civilian rule in Mali and to mediate a solution to the rebellion in the north. In addition, we appeal to all parties to ensure impartial and unhindered humanitarian access to any and all populations in northern Mali.

We strongly insist that all actors in Mali respect human rights and international humanitarian law.  The people of Mali deserve to live in a secure environment free from fear and oppression where their universal human rights and fundamental freedoms – including the freedoms of religion and of expression – are protected and respected.

PRN: 2012/1135