Reunify the Marbles! Pressure Piles Up on Acropolis Museum Anniversary


Parthenon Marbles
Dozens of protesters demanded the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. Credit: British Commission for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles

Dozens of protesters gathered on Saturday inside the hall that houses the Parthenon Marbles at the British Museum, to demand their reunion with those in Athens.

The initiative belonged to the British Commission for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles (BCRPM), on the occasion of the 13th anniversary of the opening of the Acropolis Museum.

Calls for the reunification of the antiquities, removed by Lord Elgin from the Acropolis more than 200 years ago – and regarded as vital to the nation’s cultural memory – mounted on Saturday with six UK lawmakers telling the Greek daily, Ta Nea, that restitution was the only proper thing to do. The British Museum acquired the sculptures from the diplomat in 1816.

Lord Dubs said: “The marbles should be one entity and not in different countries; they were originally stolen from Greece but above all, they represent something especially important for Greece.”

“There could not be a better moment for the Parthenon Marbles to be reunited in their Athenian home. Let us put international treasures on carefully chartered aeroplanes instead of desperate refugees,” said Baroness Chakrabarti, and a new member of BCRPM.

“It’s not a question of whether rather than when,” commented Lord Campbell-Savours.

“The UK Government should accept that continuing to keep possession of the Parthenon Marbles is an outdated policy, rooted in imperialism,” Margaret Ferrier MP said.

“The British Museum must do the right thing and return them to their rightful home in Greece. Failure to do so is insulting to Greece and her people,” said Dave Doogan MP.

“The Parthenon Marbles must be returned to Greece without delay,” said Lord Sikka.

The award-winning British author and BCRPM member Victoria Hislop, who has been granted honorary Greek citizenship, said: “I think it is only a matter of time before all the arguments presented by the Conservative government (itself tottering on the brink) and the British Museum itself turn to dust, and the Greek light shines on the Marbles once again.”

British Museum hints that the Parthenon Marbles “could be shared”

Earlier this week, the Chair of the British Museum George Osborne said that Greece and the UK could agree on an arrangement where they both share the Parthenon Marbles.

Speaking to LBC Radio in London, the former UK Chancellor was asked whether an arrangement would be made that would see the Parthenon Marbles displayed in both Athens and London: “I cannot speak for all the trustees [of the British Museum], but I think such an arrangement would work,” he said.

Greece intensifies campaign

Greece has intensified its campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, a struggle that started in the 1980s by then Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri. A recent poll in Britain shows that the majority of Britons is in favor of their repatriation to their home.

In May, UNESCO announced that Greece and the UK have agreed to hold talks on the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

 



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