The Worldly Librarian

International library issues

Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

Iraq may return archvies to Kuwait

Posted by worldlylibrarian on March 5, 2009

The Kuwait News Agency is reporting that a number of items reportedly stolen from the Kuwati archives during the Gulf War may be returned. The material, consisting of 4,500 video tapes and cassettes from the archives of the Kuwaiti Information Ministry, were taken by Iraq during the 1990 invasion.

Iraq has also pledged to return any other similar material that
may have been looted during the occupation.

(Source: Kuwait News Agency, March 4 2009)

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Iraqi Librarian: Documents seized in war given to US institution instead of being returned to Iraq

Posted by worldlylibrarian on June 9, 2008

There’s a very good article in The Guardian (London) about Saad Eskander, director of Baghdad’s national library. There have been other articles about him in the past, and he kept a blog from 2006 to 2007, but this one discusses a couple of important points I found very interesting.

First of all, he talks about the cutural value of libraries in rebuilding a society, a topic that is of great interest to me. Even if the loss of library collections in wartime isn’t part of deliberate ethnic cleansing (e.g. the destruction of the National and University Library in Sarajevo), the loss of collections can have a significant impact on the rebuilding of civil society.

Secondly, and more crucially, was the discussion of the many boxes of records and archival material seized by the coalition troops after their invasion, as part of their search for evidence of genocide and weapons of mass destruction. Apparently most of this material, much of it in the hands of the CIA and Pentagon, was never returned to Iraq, despite appeals by Eskander that it be returned to his library. What’s worse is that many of these documents ended up in the collection an American group called the Iraq Memory Foundation, with links to various rightwing think tanks and pro-Bush neocons.

Shouldn’t Iraqi documents that are no longer part of an active investigation into so-called weapons of mass destruction be returned to the national library of Iraq, and not handed over to an American institution?

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