Greek Communists demand the return of the “Elgin Marbles” held in British Museum

CC: Oliver Mallich
CC: Oliver Mallich

In a question to the European Commission last week, the Communist Party of Greece’s (KKE) EU Parliamentary Group demanded the full and permanent return of the 2,500 year-old Parthenon Marbles, also known as the “Elgin Marbles” in Britain.

The iconic classical Greek marble sculptures made under the supervision of the architect and sculptor Phidias and his assistants in the 5th century BCE were plundered from the Athens Acropolis by then British diplomat Lord Elgin in the early 19th century.

KKE MEP Lefteris Nikolaou-Alavanos asked the Commission:

The Parthenon of the Acropolis of Athens is Greece’s cultural heritage and a world cultural treasure. About two centuries ago, part of the Parthenon sculptures were forcibly removed from their physical space and transported to London, as a result of an extensive theft by the British with the permission of the Ottoman conquerors. Today, the Parthenon sculptures are still illegally kept in the British Museum. Millions of visitors every year, both in the Acropolis of Athens and the British Museum, experience the emptiness and the looting that has taken place and are unable to admire the monument in its entirety

The return of the sculptures and the restoration of the Parthenon in the Acropolis of Athens as a unified monument at the place of its creation means respect for the value and symbolism of the monument, which is recognized by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage of mankind. At the same time, it is a restoration of an old and continuing injustice. During all the years that the UK was a member of the EU the latter did not take any initiative for the return of the sculptures to Greece. 

The Commission is asked:

How does it position itself, in the face of the UK’s withdrawal agreements from the EU, towards the demand for the full and permanent return of the Parthenon sculptures to their place and natural place so that they can be united with what they are inextricably linked in the Acropolis of Athens?

YCL General Secretary, Johnnie Hunter, told Challenge, “We completely agree with and echo the call of our Greek comrades for the immediate return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens, without condition. The cultural heritage of a people is their own and not the plunder of empire. This is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the countless artefacts and artworks stolen during Britain’s colonial era and retained in modern times. It is a shameful legacy which should be condemned today as we fight for restitution for the victims of colonialism and a foreign policy based on peace and cooperation – not ruthless exploitation.

Challenge News Desk

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