Three sector organisations – CILIP, RLUK and SCONUL – have produced a joint statement of solidarity with librarians, archivists and other information professionals in Afghanistan following the seizure of power by the Taliban.
Drafted by Bodley’s Librarian, Richard Ovenden (author of ‘Banning the Books’), the statement says:
We are gravely concerned at the threat to the safety and security of librarians and archivists resulting from the change of regime in Afghanistan. They have dedicated their professional lives to serving the people and institutions of Afghanistan and we call on the new regime to guarantee their ability to carry out their professional duties without threat or coercion.
Of particular concern is the place of women librarians and archivists. They are a key part of the profession in Afghanistan, and are vital to encourage women to make use of library and archival services and to ensure that they feel safe to do so. They must be allowed to return to their institutions, and continue to work without any barriers.
The statement calls on the Taliban regime to comply with the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property as well as the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.
Commenting on the statement, CILIP CEO Nick Poole said:
This is an important statement of solidarity and support for our colleagues in Afghanistan. The situation there is a cause of grave concern and we are concerned particularly with the rights of women and girls to freedom of expression and access to education.
We will continue to liaise with Government authorities in the UK and internationally to lend our support to calls for a more moderate approach by the Taliban regime.
Read the Statement: