New Delhi, Aug 12 IANS | 4 months ago

Unesco Tuesday expressed alarm at reports of systematic persecution of, and attacks on Christian, Turkmen and Yazidi communities in Iraq and its cultural and religious places.

"What appears to be an emerging cultural cleansing must stop immediately. Attacks against civilians and minority groups are in direct violation of humanitarian law," Irina Bokova, director general of Unesco, said in a statement.

"They are also a direct blow on the cultural diversity, which is a defining characteristic of humanity," Bokova added.

The Islamic State formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS)) overran the town of Sinjar last week. The Sunni militant group has taken control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria, and seized towns where minority populations live.

Many minority groups have fled and many have been killed by this militant group.

Bokova said it is "unacceptable that people are denied" their most fundamental rights and are "systematically persecuted and killed" because of their beliefs, ethnic origin or cultural expressions.

"The protection of people is inseparable from the protection of their cultures, living expressions and heritage," said Bokova.

"I also reiterate my call on all Iraqis to stand united in protecting their unique cultural heritage," she added.

(Posted on 12-08-2014)

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