Prevent destruction of ancient site of Mes Aynak and the environmental damage

Prevent destruction of ancient site of Mes Aynak and the environmental damage

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Matin Wasei started this petition to President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai

Sign our petition to save the ancient Buddhist city of Mes Aynak (Province Logar, Afghanistan) from needless destruction while preventing irreversible environmental harm to the Kabul watershed and the Afghan people.

We, the undersigned, acknowledge the urgent need for revenue generation for Afghanistan. We also recognize cultural heritage is a treasure for the ages, and no amount of revenue can compensate for an environmental catastrophe.

1.   We insist that the Mes Aynak mining project be conducted in accordance with international standards in a transparent manner that will safeguard public health, and ensure maximum protection for cultural heritage and the environment. International standards include publication of the final mining plan, the final, approved environmental impact plan, and the consensus advisory of archaeologists to optimize restoration of the site.

2.  We strongly urge the Afghan government to set up a coordinating body composed of government and mining officials, neutral experts in the fields of environmental safety, archaeology and geology, and representatives of the local population and civil society to oversee the implementation of International standards. This body shall ensure that the mining plan is followed throughout the entire life of the mine.

Issue Briefing on the Campaign to Save Mes Aynak

In November 2007 the Afghan government granted a 30-year lease for the Mes Aynak copper mine to the China Metallurgical Group (MCC). The hope is that this mine could become a significant source of revenue for a country that is emerging from three decades of conflict and trying to stand on its own feet.

However, the same site also holds a buried Buddhist city with multiple temples, fortresses and commercial and residential areas. Below that are older historic remains going back to 3000 B.C. and possibly including Bronze Age artifacts. Experts call this one of the premier archaeological treasures in Asia. When mining begins, this unique heritage site will be destroyed forever. Currently, a small team of salvage archaeologists is rushing to save whatever can be removed from the location.

The copper deposit also sits atop the aquifer that supplies water to the surrounding agricultural province and to Kabul, a city with an estimated 3 million inhabitants. Copper mining is hazardous and there is a real threat of a catastrophic environmental disaster if the proper methods of mining are not applied.

So far, no environmental impact plan and no mining plan has been made public. There has been no discussion of variable mining technologies that might allow for portions of the site to be saved. Local residents and the Afghan population have not been informed of the costs and significant risks of this endeavor. An atmosphere of secrecy prevails and destruction is scheduled to begin in just a few months.

There is a better way forward – identified by a group of renowned international experts who met specifically to find a solution in June of 2012. Their recommendations are reasonable and should be followed by the Afghan government, MCC, and their supporting partners, the World Bank and the U.S. Department of State.

Update: We are partnering up with others who share this common goal!!!


Please also sign the petition by Nadia Tarzi to UNESCO at

For more information about Mes Aynak, please refer to


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