MOSUL, Iraq – In a blind road-building frenzy on the land which holds the historical Nineveh Wall near the Nergal Gate, construction workers, assumedly with permission of the Nineveh Governate, have bulldozed parts of the Nineveh Wall’s archaeological site and its approaches to the Nergal Gate. The archaeological land is owned by the Iraqi Antiquities Authority and is in the western part of the city of Mosul known as the Nergal neighborhood.
President of the Beth Nahrain Patriotic Union Yusuf Yaqoob Matti and former Syriac Member of Iraqi Parliament Joseph Sliwa yesterday inspected the site and expressed their strong condemnation. In a statement to the gathered press, President of the Beth Nahrain Patriotic Union Yusuf Yaqoob Matti stated:
“We stand here in front of the ancient Nineveh Wall and near the Nergal Gate. First, my message is “Not respecting our antiquities, is insulting the people of Iraq”. There is no law in the world that allows a person to bulldoze and destroy archaeological sites. If there are forces in this country that officially request the Antiquity Authority of Iraq to permit such a thing, we denounce it in whole and see it as a grave insult to the Nineveh Governate Authority of Antiquities.”
“We stand here in front of a world heritage site which goes back more than 4.000 years. Here the Adad temple was founded. The settlement of Nineveh goes back before the Assyrian era, but it was the Assyrians, especially king Sanharib, who finished the city around 900 BC. It was him who built this impressive wall. Today, in front of the world, this wall is bulldozed. The Nineveh Governate authorities should not have allowed the opening of this road. We urge the Prime Minister of Iraq, the Authority of Antiquities, the leader of parliament, and the Governor of Nineveh that the destruction of this Wall and the road work be immediately stopped.”
In 2015, ISIS threatened to destroy these 3,000 year old walls from the ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh.
Now, the Iraqi government has chosen to do so, knocking down parts of it to build a new road. The government denies this, but eyewitnesses and pictures attest otherwise. pic.twitter.com/800GgoU7U1
— Iraq Tweets 🇮🇶 (@Iraq_Tweets) March 21, 2021
Former Syrian MP Joseph Sliwa spoke in no less friendly terms about the crimes against Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian history and Iraqi archaeology:
“I have come here to investigate and follow up on the news in the media that the famous Nineveh Wall is destroyed in an act of cultural vandalism. I stand here only 5 meters from the Wall and the evidence of destruction is evident. It is clear that the heavy construction machinery has been removed from the construction site to cover up the acts.”
“I have only this to say to Prime Minister Mustapha al-Kadhimi; If you consider yourself Iraqi, stand up against this heinous crime and protect your country’s national history and heritage. We call on al-Kadhimi and the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities to immediately appoint a committee to investigate this crime. We will not remain silent and will follow this case closely.”
The Nineveh authorities at first denied the allegations, claiming that the images going around on social media dated back to the time when terrorist organization ISIS destroyed the archaeological site. Now, Nineveh Governor Najm al-Jubouri has ordered the formation of a committee to investigate the case and to present the results in a transparent manner to public opinion.
According to earlier statements by Sliwa, there are citizens who have proof of their ownership of those lands, it is part of their property. When antiquities were discovered decades ago, the state laid hands on that property. Some of those citizens claim that the Iraqi state has never compensated them, Sliwa said.