Statement from the BISI Council on 23 June 2014

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At this difficult and violent time for Iraq and Iraqis, our thoughts go out to everyone affected by the current crisis. We are in regular touch with our colleagues and friends in Iraq and are glad to report that, so far, everyone we work with is safe and well.
BISI is an organisation dedicated to research and education in Iraqi culture and cultural heritage. Culture and people are inseparable: it is individuals and communities who create culture, culture that brings people together in meaningful, creative and constructive ways. Culture is the glue that holds societies together. It is a fundamental part of being human, living together.
Important elements of Iraqi culture are under threat at the moment. At BISI we believe it is vital to resist that threat, and show solidarity and support to those on the front line, by continuing to co-operate and collaborate with Iraqi colleagues wherever it is feasible to do so.
By continuing to operate as normally as possible—and normality entails regular thorough risk review for all in-country activity—BISI stands against those who wish to destroy the richness and diversity of Iraqi culture and heritage.
BISI is also working with Blue Shield to help all states parties involved in the conflict to protect Iraqi cultural heritage under the terms of the 1954 Hague Convention and other international laws. We cannot, of course, expect to have any influence over non-state actors on the ground.
In short BISI believes we all have a duty to protect and celebrate Iraq’s multi-faceted cultural heritage, now and for future generations. It matters deeply to many Iraqis—and many of the rest of us—and its fate cannot be separated from the human tragedy that is currently unfolding.