Emanuel Comino on Ahdaf Soueif’s Resignation

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In an open letter to the Trustees of the British Museum, Emanuel Comino AM, Chairman of the International Organising Committee – Australia – for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles[1] (IOC-A-RPM), said, “We strongly recommend that you urge the British Prime Minister to open negotiations with the Greek Government directed towards solving this cultural property dispute once and for all.”

“We also urge you call upon the UK Prime Minister to support changes to British Museum Act 1963 that will make this possible.”

His comments were prompted by the resignation of British Museum Trustee Ahdaf Soueif.

Writing on her blog Ms Soueif said,

” A few days ago I resigned from its Board of Trustees. My resignation was not in protest at a single issue; it was a cumulative response to the museum’s immovability on issues of critical concern to the people who should be its core constituency: the young and the less privileged.”

She is quoted elsewhere[2] as saying:

“The British Museum, born and bred in empire and colonial practice, is coming under scrutiny. And yet it hardly speaks.”

“It is in a unique position to lead a conversation about the relationship of South to North, about common ground and human legacies and the bonds of history.

“Its task should be to help us all imagine a better world, and – along the way – to demonstrate the usefulness of museums. This would go some way towards making the case for keeping its collection in London.”

In congratulating Ms Soueif  Emanuel Comino said, “We as members of the oldest Committee in the world campaigning for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, applaud Ms Soueif’s courage and principle.”

“Such intransigence also castes the Museum in a most negative light internationally and must be a great source of embarrassment to the government and the people of the British Isles,” he added

“Surveys of your own MPs have clearly shown more than 60% support for the return of the Marbles.”

“A Museum that was adapting to the 21st century would recognise that many opportunities exist for extensive collections of other Hellenistic objects, not well represented in the Museum’s collection, to be made available should a resolution to this dispute be achieved.  New technologies also enable highly realistic 3D laser simulations to be used in place of antiquities that have been returned to their countries of origin.”

“Restitution will allow the Marbles to be relocated in the specially conceived Acropolis Museum.  In this new setting, very close to their origins, the rich contribution of the Marbles to world civilization will have a gravity that cannot be achieved in other artificial settings.”

“Restitution will also allow the British Museum to shed the mantle of insensitivity and the emerging view that it is an institution somewhat out of step with present global developments in Museology. ”

“The call for restitution is becoming stronger and stronger internationally, it will never abate.  As a gesture of goodwill, that will be remembered through the ages, we urge you to call for the restitution of the Marbles now.”

For a full report on Ahdaf Soueif’s resignation go to her blog.

Russell Darnley OAM

Vice Chair and International Liaison Officer IOC-A-RPM

For further direct comment from EJ Comino

+6 1 2  9588 4144 

[1] Emanuel is also Vice Chair of the International Association for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures but is making this statement as Chair of the IOC-A-RPM

[2] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/16/british-museum-trustee-quits-bp-sponsorship-immovability-looted/

 

 

 

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