UNESCO chief deplores murder of senior Iraqi cultural official

26 August 2008The head of the United Nations culture agency today condemned the murder of a senior Iraqi Government official who had long worked to protect and preserve his country’s cultural heritage. Kamel Shiya, 57, an adviser at the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in central Baghdad on Saturday afternoon.UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura issued a statement describing the killing as a crime against Iraqi society and a sad loss for UNESCO.“Those who murdered this champion of Iraq’s reconstruction must be seen for what they are: criminals working against the interests of the people of Iraq,” Mr. Matsuura said, offering his condolences to Mr. Shiya’s family, friends and colleagues.“Mr. Shiya was a devoted public servant who was committed to the safeguarding of Iraq’s rich cultural heritage,” Mr. Matsuura added.Since 2003, Mr. Shiya – who was a philosopher by training and a well-known cultural critic – served as UNESCO’s focal point in the Ministry of Culture. He also chaired the National Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding of the Cultural Heritage of Iraq. read more