Attempts to Relive Afghan’s Giant Buddhas Slug: Afghan Buddha reconstruction Date: 26/09/2012 Reporter: Ghayor Waziri INTRO

: When the Taliban were at the height of their power in Afghanistan, they waged a war against idol worship. The biggest victims were two giant standing stone Buddhist statues carved into a cliff face during the 6th century. The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas led to global condemnation. But UNESCO has decided not to rebuild them. However as Ghayor Waziri reports there are others who passionately believe they should be rebuilt. TEXT: SFX 1 (mix sound of the wind and village which Buddha located in that) When you look up at the sand stone cliffs now--- the only thing you see is huge empty spaces. Once the largest in the world the Buddha statues are now rubble. They were built in the 6th century when Afghanistan was the centre of Buddhist learning. Ali Payam, author of historic books in Bamiyan Province explains why the Taliban destroyed the statues in 2001. Ali Payam clip1 (Male/Persian): “Taliban saw the Buddha statues as symbols, as idols. They wanted to show their power in Afghanistan, especially in the Bamiyan Province. The Buddha destruction was a big decision for the Taliban to show their power and their commitment to follow their faith. The international community were against that.” Merza Hosain Ahmadi took part in the destruction. He was a prison of war at the time. Merza Hosain Ahmadi clip 1 (Male/ Persian): “The Taliban brought many heavy weapons, even tanks. They lined them all against the statues. It was in the middle of the day and they started shooting at the statues. They demanded all war prisoners like me to drill into the statue and put explosive materials there. Every day we made holes in the entire Buddha statues and put a huge number of bombs inside. The biggest statue was destroyed after 25 days of drilling and bombing. The second statue was destroyed in just one day using a huge amount of explosives.”

the remaining parts will be destroyed too. They have been working on the site to salvage any remaining fragments of the sculpture and put them under a protective covering to preserve them as best they can. Amin Ahmadi clip 1 (Male. So for now the site has been left as it is as a way to remember the Taliban’s violence. A year later. The Afghan government is reluctant to continue the project without any financial aid. Murad Ali clip 1(Male/Persian): “Excavators were working to rehabilitate the Buddhas. . But they were only working for three months. 35-year old Murad Ali used to work as a guide for people coming to see the ruins of the Buddhas. They didn’t bring any big change to the destroyed statues. Tarzi gave one standstone to each of us and told us to make sculptures out of that. Persian): “At first we saw ancient historical things which were made from soil and we started to make a sculpture ourselves. I think we can make sculptures like the Buddha statues in the future.” But last year UNESCO decided to stop the reconstruction project and leave them in the hands of the Afghan government. archaelogists and historians discussed the possibility of rebuilding the Buddhas. But the project didn’t last long because the winter which can run up to 7 months of the year was too cold for the workers. but not as bad as the biggest one.After the fall of the Taliban in 2003. Everyday we can see big stones falling from the place where the biggest statue used to stand. If nobody pays attention.” Another German group of archaeological conservationists are also pushing for the Buddha to be rebuilt. Last month. We then went near the Buddha statues with the archaeologists. The smaller statue was destroyed too. famous Afghan archaeologist Zemaryalai Tarzi held a two-weeks workshop near the site for archaeology students from Bamiyan University. Amin Ahmadi is one of the 28 students. But there are still many who would like the site rebuilt. the Afghan government started the Buddha reconstruction project with the assistance of UNESCO and financial help from Japan and Germany. Now we can carve sculptures on stones.

Archaeology student Assadullah Husaini is convinced that the Buddha reconstruction project is still possible. this is Ghayor Waziri from Kabul. Tourists who come to the site will pay money.” Many locals support reconstruction because the Buddhas were once a great source of income from tourists 25-yar old Nasir Ahmad Bihzad is a university student who lives in the village near the Buddha statues. the existance of idols is haram or taboo. And the benefit also goes to the local people. Persian): “Our next goal is to rebuild the Buddha statues and challenge the Taliban with our work. they don’t support rebuilding them. I don’t agree with the rebuilding of Buddha statues. Especially in the society where the knowledge level is low like Afghanistan. stay in hotels. Husain Ahmad Ahmadi clip 1 (Male/Persian): “In Islamic society. Though many clerics and religious leaders may not have agreed with the destruction of religious idols. Assadullah Husaini clip 1 (Male. The first one is for the Afghan government. We can also show our good culture to them. .” For Asia Calling.Some weighing up to 40 tonnes. Some people might think that the statues are the real God and worship them. because tourists will buy food and other things here. Nasir clip 1 (Male/Persian): “The reconstruction of Buddha statues has two benefits. That includes Husain Ahmad Ahmadi.” But the reception to rebuilding in the rest of the country is unpredictable.

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