Buddhas destruction my life’s bitter memory: Witness
BAMYAN (Pajhwok): The man, now 65, who helped the Taliban destroy the famous Buddha statues in his home province, Bamyan, says he regrets his role in the act of destruction that shocked the world in 2001 as “a bitter memory in my life that hurts.”
Syed Mirza Hussain was 26 years old when the Taliban brought in explosives by truck and attached bombs to the 6th Century statues, once the world's tallest Buddhas, in 2001.
Taliban held captive Mirza along with several other local men and ordered them to plant explosives on the statues.
In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, he said: “I feel fear when I remember that day. I will never forget that day as a bitter memory in my life.”
Recalling the 2001 spring, Mirza said the Taliban first tried to destroy the statues with rockets and artillery, but they could not destroy them completely. Later the Taliban ordered the prisoners to place explosives under the Buddhas, a process that took about a month, he said.
“As the bombs went off, the Taliban shouted Allahu Akbar with every blast. They were calling themselves idol breakers. They slaughtered several cows and held special celebrations after the Buddha was completely destroyed,” he said.
The large statue was 55 metres high and the small one 33 metres. Ahmad Hussain Ahmadpur, spokesman for the Information and Culture Department, told Pajhwok Afghan News the destruction of Buddha statues was a big loss for Afghanistan’s culture and history.
Abbas, another eyewitness of the incident, said: “I was crossing Garwana village of Bamyan city when I suddenly heard a heavy explosion. I saw smokes arising from the Buddhas when came close. People were afraid, they even could discuss it . All people knew the Taliban were busy planting explosives from several days.”
Information and Culture Director Mohammad Ishaq Azizi told Pajhwok the Taliban had committed a national treason by destroying a heritage site that was inimitable in the world.
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