In an interview for the times, the director of the British Museum, Neil McGregor, told an interviewer that the British Museum is guarding a precious artefact that was looted from Syria, in the hope of returning it when the country is stable. He also added that this is a policy the museum has exercised in the past with regards to artefacts from Afghanistan which are now being returned.
We are playing a significant part in holding objects that have been illegally exported … We did that in Afghanistan and are now returning them. We are holding an object we know was illegally removed from Syria and one day it will go back
Mr MacGregor also emphasized the fact that the UK had not yet ratified the Hague convention for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict.
The preservation of cultural property is indeed paramount but perhaps the British Museum and UK government should consider leading by example. The Parthenon sculptures were taken from Greece under dubious circumstances during a period when the country was under Turkish rule. However, Greece has enjoyed its independence for almost 200 years and there is an ongoing claim for the return of the Parthenon sculptures. When will the British Museum and UK government acknowledge the injustuce of their refusal to return the Parthenon sculptures?