By Sandy English:
Director of Baghdad museum goes into exile
12 September 2006
Donny George, the former director of the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad and a leading conservator of Iraqi antiquities, has resigned as president of the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage and left Baghdad for Syria.
In an interview with the British television station Channel 4, he said his reasons for departure were threats to his family and the impossibility of working with the current government.
George has been an important figure in Iraqi archaeology for the last 30 years.
He served as one of the officials of the National Museum under the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein when he supervised Iraq’s archaeological digs as well as the collection and study of archaeological artifacts.
During the UN-sponsored sanctions after 1991, he maintained international connections with archaeologists and historians.
He was responsible for safeguarding many of Iraq’s artistic treasures on the approach of the American invasion.
George was one of the first to alert the world to the dangers facing these sites and the National Museum itself brought on by the invasion.
He is well regarded in the international heritage and archaeological communities. …
The National Museum was looted in April 2003 during the chaos created by the American conquest.
The Bush administration paid no regard to the importance of the museum and took no action to protect it from theft.
American troops disregarded international law protecting cultural heritage during military action at the museum site.
The administration’s response to the looting of artistic and archaeological artifacts covering thousands of years was Donald Rumsfeld’s notorious quip, “Stuff happens.”
More than 10,000 items were taken, of which only about half have been recovered.
The state of archeology and heritage preservation in Iraq is a disaster.