5 March, 2012
Government condemns vandalism of Commonwealth war graves
The New Zealand Government condemns the vandalism of war graves in Libya where hundreds of Commonwealth soldiers are buried and joins the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in expressing shock and sadness, Arts Culture and Heritage Minister Christopher Finlayson said today.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, an inter-governmental agency based in England and funded by member countries to maintain war graves, has advised that the damage in the Benghazi War Cemetery and Benghazi British Military Cemetery is extensive. Headstones were broken and disfigured but no details on whether that included the graves of New Zealanders.
Eleven New Zealanders are buried in Benghazi War Cemetery. The Government is waiting for advice from the Commission about whether any were affected by the vandalism. As soon as more detail is available it will be passed on.
“We share the Commission’s sense of deep shock and sadness at these attacks,” Mr Finlayson said. “We support the Commission’s commitment to restoring the cemetery to a standard befitting the sacrifice of those buried and commemorated there.”