Target: President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai
Goal: To preserve the archaeological treasure of ancient Buddhist monastery complex Mes Aynak.
Located just twenty-five miles southeast of the Afghanistan capital of Kabul, Mes Aynak holds within it the remains of over 200 Buddha statues and stupas as well as a 100-acre monastery complex. The largest remaining giant Buddha statue is among those located at the site. It also holds significant historical importance as a major stop along the historic Silk Road trading route. Unfortunately the site also contains the world’s second largest copper deposit. This makes for a disappointing clash between economic profitability and historical preservation.
It is this profitability that now threatens the site. The Chinese Metallurgical Group acquired a 30-year lease to mine copper in the area. This served as the biggest foreign investment and private business venture in Afghanistan’s history. Sadly, the Chinese Metallurgical Group now plans to raze the entire area by creating a massive open-pit mine with which to extract the copper.
This open-pit mine would serve to not only destroy the ruins of the ancient city surrounding the region, but also hundreds of archaeological finds yet to be extracted and cataloged. At present the Chinese government is affording international archaeologists until December of this year to remove whatever they can before the site is entirely demolished. This timetable is not only unacceptable, but the existence of a timetable at all before a historical and archaeological treasure is destroyed is completely ludicrous.
This site must be preserved beyond just a limited time period. The Chinese Metallurgical group must find a way to mine within Mes Aynak without completely destroying the archaeological value of the site. Protect the ruins and preserve Mes Ayank; once allowed to be destroyed for a copper mine, it will be gone forever.
Dear President Karzai,
Mes Aynek is an important archaeological site located just twenty-five miles south of Kabul. The area holds within it the remains of over 200 Buddha statues and stupas. Also encompassed within the site are the remains of a 100-acre monastery complex as well as the largest remaining giant Buddha statue. Beyond the ruins the site also has historical value as a major cog along the ancient Silk Road trading route. Sadly, this may all be destroyed due to the region also containing the world’s second-largest copper deposit.
This makes for a difficult to reconcile clash between historical preservation and profitability. Unfortunately, this profitability now threatens the site. The Chinese Metallurgical Group has acquired a 30-year lease to mining rights in the area. This lucrative venture serves as the biggest foreign investment and private business venture in Afghanistan’s history. Sadly, the Chinese Metallurgical Group now plans to irreparably destroy the area by creating a massive open-pit mine with which to extract copper ore from the region.
Beyond the ruins themselves, thousands of archaeological artifacts remain un-excavated. An open pit mine would serve to destroy all of these archaeological finds before they can be found or cataloged. Beyond this it would also cause irreparable destruction to the remaining ruins within the site. This cannot be allowed. Giving a timetable for archaeologists to find what they can is irresponsible and disingenuous. Instead the Chinese Metallurgical group must find a way to mine within Mes Aynak without completely destroying the archaeological value of the site. Mes Aynek’s historical ruins must be protected at all costs.
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