UNESCO mourns death of famed Kyrgyz author

16 June 2008The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today voiced sorrow over the death of the renowned Kyrgyz author Chinguiz Aitmatov, describing him as one of the leading literary figures of the 20th century. Koïchiro Matsuura offered his condolences to the family of Mr. Aitmatov and to the authorities and people of Kyrgyzstan after learning of the author’s death last Tuesday.“A close collaborator of UNESCO for many years, he campaigned constantly against violence, and was a fervent promoter of dialogue between civilizations, which he considered so necessary to preserve humanity’s precious cultural diversity,” Mr. Matsuura said in a statement.Mr. Aitmatov served as Kyrzgystan’s Permanent Delegate to UNESCO for 11 years, during which he initiated the second international Issik-Kul forum in 1997, which brought together writers, artists and intellectuals to debate their vision of today’s world with policymakers.He was also one of the main organizers of the UN Mountain Summit, held in Bishkek in 2002 to discuss how to improve the lives of people living in mountainous regions and to safeguard their ecosystems.Mr. Aitmatov’s work has been translated into at least 160 languages, and his best known titles include Jamila, The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years, The White Ship, The Scaffold and Farewell, Gulsary.

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