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Goff Slams Acts Of Vandalism By Taliban


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

12 March 2001

GOFF SLAMS ACTS OF VANDALISM BY TALIBAN


Foreign Minister Phil Goff has condemned as "barbaric vandalism" the destruction of relics and monuments in Afghanistan by the Taliban movement.

Reports indicate the two giant Buddha statues in the Bamiyan valley have been destroyed. The Teliban has also ordered the destruction of other cultural and historic non-Islamic relics. New Zealand supported a UN resolution on Friday to deplore these acts.

"The Taliban faction has not only deprived the Afghan people of their own country's heritage but have robbed the world of part of its history.

"The statues are lost forever and New Zealand denounces the movement over its intention to continue with further destruction of the irreplaceable relics of Afghanistan's heritage," Mr Goff said.

The Minister also said that Cabinet decided today to implement United Nations sanctions against the Taliban because of the precarious humanitarian and security situation Afghanistan faces.

The UN Security Council imposed a range of new sanctions on the Taliban in December following concerns of continuing problems with narcotics trafficking and terrorist activities carried out by the Taliban faction.

The sanctions are also aimed at containing Usama bin Laden, who is believed to be based in Taliban-controlled territory and responsible for various international terrorist acts against the United States.

"The new sanctions cover the provision of arms and technical training to the Taliban. They also cover the sale of acetic anhydride (a chemical used to convert morphine to heroin), the movement of aircraft (with exceptions) to Taliban-controlled areas and the freezing of funds and other financial assets of Usama bin Laden and his associates, " Mr Goff said.

The Minister said New Zealand also backed the UN's efforts in obtaining an improvement in conditions for women in Afghanistan.

"The Taliban's human rights record in particular with regards to women is an absolute disgrace. That the faction denies women the right to participate in society as full human beings is totally unacceptable," Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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