UNESCO held a meeting, under the title 'Rallying the International Community to Safeguard Syria’s Cultural Heritage' at the organization's headquarter in Paris between 26-28 May, 2014.
Surprisingly for the Syrians, the invitation to the meeting included only the regime and its representatives from the Association for Protection of Syrian Archaeology and Heritage Saving Association and Aleppo’s Archaeology branch, as second category of attendees to "attend meetings and contribute in discussion only", due to the pressure the regime put on the meeting coordinators.
Local societies and associations supported by the Syrian opposition protested against the meeting, saying the international organization was biased toward the regime because they did not allow experts from liberated areas in Syria to make any presentations, while representatives from the Ministry of Culture and Directory of Archaeology and Museums in Damascus presented their lectures and direct discussions.
In an initial protest statement against the UNESCO decision, the associations said that “it is well known that Syria’s Archaeology has been severely damaged in most cities in Syria, in North and South Areas in particular, which are under opposition control.”
"It looks like UNESCO does not care about archaeology in those areas, otherwise they would have acted in different way, because it is well known that those associations are the connecting channels between the international organizations and people on ground who can help protect Syrian heritage," the statement said.
Associations untied in their boycott of the meeting, saying they wanted to deliver a message to the international organization as they felt the choice of participants was unfair, and was directed by pressure from Damascus.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer