Help protect Afghanistan’s cultural heritage from your laptop!

Since the return of the Taliban, the international community has watched with growing concern the events unfolding across Afghanistan. In addition to the humanitarian situation, the country’s rich cultural heritage is once again in danger. Vandals and thieves will profit of the instability to steal or destroy cultural heritage for a variety of reasons, including personal gain or political motivation. To protect it, we need to work together. With the joined forces of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and Wikimedia, everybody can help, even from your laptop.

Nowadays, many of the illicit transactions involving cultural heritage happen online on social media or e-commerce platforms. To respond to the emergency in Afghanistan and the migration of these kinds of crimes to online platforms, ICOM and Wikimedia CH have agreed to give the ICOM Red List of Afghanistan Antiquities at Risk maximum visibility, diversify its use online, and to call for contribution to protect the cultural heritage of the country.

This awareness campaign is based on a previous close collaboration to promote the Interational Museumsday in Switzerland and abroad. ICOM had reached out to Wikimedia CH in order to mobilise the Wiki community and Internet users to contribute to the objective to protect Afghan cultural heritage at risk of looting and illicit traffic. 

Wikimedia CH was quickly convinced by these objectives and created a project page and promote this “call to action” in the global Wiki Movement as you read it here on Diff, on the Social Media, in the Wikimedia CH Newsletter, to press contacts, and on the Wikimedia CH website. We also launched a Banner on Wikipedia and informed the Wikimedia Foundation, other Wikimedia affiliates as well as our partners.

On the project page, under the title “How to participate & contribute”, the Wiki community all over the world is invited to get involved. This can be done by creating new articles, updating, amending, or translating existing articles, inserting pictures from Wikimedia Commons or optimizing the presence of these artifacts on Wikidata. If you have knowledge and access to media files and collections depicting objects from categories included in the Red List of ICOM regarding the Afghan Antiquities at risk, that are in public domain or available under a CC-BY-SA license, you can upload them to Wikimedia Commons and make them visible in a dedicated image gallery available there.

With your help, we will significantly increase the chances of citizens and organisations discovering the ICOM Red List when searching for information on a suspicious object they have found for sale, or when researching on the illicit trade more broadly!

Contact for further information 

ICOM: Alexandra Fernández Coego, Head of Communications and Public Relations 
T. +33 784 12 53 56 │ Fax. +33 1 43 06 78 62, alexandra.fernandez@icom.museum, http://icom.museum

Wikimedia CH :  Kerstin Sonnekalb, Outreach & Communication, Mobil: +41 78 813 13 26,
kerstin.sonnekalb@wikimedia.ch / press@wikimedia.ch, www.wikimedia.ch