Azerbaijan International

Summer 2003 (11.2)
Page 10

Readers' Forum
Responsibility For Peace

Editor's Note:
In our Spring issue (AI 11.1), we drew attention to the anti-war sentiment expressed by Thor Heyerdahl 25 years ago when the Norwegian explorer and archaeologist burned his reed ship, the Tigris, to protest the enormous arms sales to countries in the Middle East by Western as well as Soviet countries. Heyerdahl (1915-2002) had close ties with Azerbaijan because of his theories that Scandinavians were descendents from people living in the region of Azerbaijan more than 1000 years ago. (See Azerbaijan International, search "Heyerdahl" at

Heyerdahl passed away last spring (April 18, 2002) at the age of 87. After consulting with his wife Jacqueline Beer of the Canary Islands and Bjornar Storfjell, Director of the Thor Heyerdahl Centre in London, we felt that if Heyerdahl had been with us today, he would have contacted the present U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Anan to draw attention to his boat-burning protest and remind him that the world's political situation has basically not changed in 25 years. He would have used the occasion to champion the rights of all people to live together in peace.

After considerable effort, we finally were able to track down the fax number that would get the immediate direct attention of Kofi Anan. We succeeded in passing along the article that we were preparing about Heyerdahl for our Spring issue. Here is the reply from the U.N. office:

Thank you for your letter dated March 28, 2003. The Secretary-General [Kofi Anan] has asked me to convey to you that he was very pleased by your words of encouragement.

Your article on Dr. Thor Heyerdahl and his voyage on the reed vessel "Tigris" serves as a timely reminder of the responsibility we all have for the maintenance of peace and the respect we owe to the cradle of civilization from where he started his journey. With best wishes,

S. Iqbal Riza
Chef de Cabinet, United Nations
Executive Office of the Secretary-General United Nations
New York City, April 16, 2003

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