Friday, February 20, 2009

Dalibard, Jansen: suppressed UNESCO cultural heritage report

I still haven't seen the complete but 'suppressed' version that journalist Michael Jansen (2005: 27) apparently has, but this is the public version of UNESCO Councillor for Cultural Heritage Jacque Dalibard's (1976) report, Cyprus: Status of the Conservation of Cultural Property. (UNESCO reversed the title and subtitle in their library catalogue record.)

The original report must be remarkable; and its suppression makes it an even more fascinating case of cultural heritage politics and ethics. Still, the problem cannot be quite as simple as Jansen suggested. Southern Cyprus resident Jansen (2005: 27) claimed that the one-hundred-page report was 'bowdlerized', censored and reduced to nine pages 'because of Turkish and Turkish Cypriot objections'. [Even simple details are incorrect: for example, she said that the report was five pages long (2005: 28), but the one part on northern Cyprus is over six pages long.]

That insinuated more than 90% of the damage and destruction in Cyprus was Turkish and Turkish Cypriot damage to and destruction of Greek Cypriot cultural property. It implied the Greek Cypriot administration, military and paramilitaries and local nationalist extremists had behaved well and were innocent of [almost] any cultural crime.

In her seventy-three pages of text and sixteen pages of images, Jansen only once addressed damage to and destruction of mosques in Cyprus, citing one disproven Turkish Cypriot propaganda claim (2005: 28). Her only other mention of Cypriot mosques was the conversion of a church into a mosque in the occupied areas (2005: fig. 11).

Even Dalibard's censored nine-page report acknowledged that Hala Sultan Tekke had been damaged (1972: 2) and that Ömeriye Mosque was in 'very bad condition'. He found Bayraktar Mosque 'totally vandalized, the minaret pulled down, the windows blocked, the roof in a state of collapse' (1976: 3).

And Dalibard had later explained that he had 'to go from one side to the other and try to convince [all] the armies... not to blow up the heritage buildings.... and to stop the looting and all these things' (Dalibard and Donaldson, 1999; notably, years before Jansen published her revised, extended study, which still did not even acknowledge the destruction documented by Dalibard three decades earlier).

Evidently, Dalibard's research was heavily and unacceptably censored; but it must have been censored because of Greek and Greek Cypriot objections as well as Turkish and Turkish Cypriot ones.

[Post edited on the 24th of February 2009.]

Dalibard, J. 1976: Status of the Conservation of Cultural Property: Cyprus. Paris: UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation). Available at:
Dalibard, J and Donaldson, J. 2006 [1999]: "Interview". McGill University School of Architecture, 16th September. Available at:
Jansen, M. 2005: War and cultural heritage: Cyprus after the 1974 Turkish invasion. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.


  1. So you mean to say it is a misrepresentation to assume that the Dalibard report was censored by Turkey solely ? because the Greek Cypriots also had a major role in the censorship because obviously they did not want the state of the Omerye and Bayaktar mosque featured in a report? Two mosques which you however say in another post were the target of bomb explosions by turkish nationalists in 1962 in the frame of a black operation. Now why would the Greeks want to hide that ? I am sure if two turkish journalists knew about it then greek intellligence must also have known who really destroyed both mosques, right ?. and obviously you cannot really blame the greeks for not restoring a mosque which was attacked as part of psychological warfare against them right?.. Or am I missing someting ?

  2. Turkish Cypriot extremists did commit false flag attacks (as did Greek Cypriot extremists). However, just as Turkish Cypriot paramilitaries committed attacks on Greek Cypriot places, so Greek Cypriot paramilitaries committed attacks on Turkish Cypriot places. We cannot assume that all attacks on Turkish Cypriot places were Turkish Cypriot false flag attacks.

    I have presented conclusive evidence for my concerns in the Liberation of Censorship in Cypriot Archaeology: Representations of a Suppressed UNESCO Report in Histories of Cultural Heritage Destruction and Fielding, Jansen, Hellenist Propaganda: Dalibard's UNESCO Cypriot Cultural Heritage Report.

    I'm afraid that I can't go into more detail at the moment, but I now have access to a leaked copy of the uncensored report, and it only affirms my initial investigations.

    If you would like to discuss any of this in greater detail in private (since you appear not to want to identify yourself publicly), you can of course e-mail me at samarkeolog on gmail.

  3. Thank-you very much I shall be contacting you soon ! I am a great fan of your blog it is extremely detailed and well referenced. It will be an honor to discuss these matters with you and I am grateful I now do not depend solely on works by Dr.Jansen and Dr. Chotzakoglou for my work.