Showing results 13 - 24 of 28 for the tag: David Cameron.

February 22, 2013

David Cameron, Modern India, Returnism, the Koh-i-Noor & the Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 9:42 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

David Cameron’s comments on the Koh-i-noor diamond have provoked huge amounts of controversy amongst Indians everywhere, with thousands of posts on twitter speaking out against his attitude. The vocal attitude of the restitution supporters is to be encouraged – and perhaps other countries could learn from some of their techniques and apply them to their own campaigns. I was particularly intrigued by this comedy routine discussing the diamond – and its continued retention by Britain.

The British Prime Minister made apologies, for some of the worst acts committed in India during the time of the British Empire – something that may have required much thinking & soul searching (& possibly even a few conversations with lawyers about any potential increase in liability / culpability). At the same time though, this was only a statement, something that required no physical or financial commitment. On the case of the Koh-i-nor however, making any sort of commitment would mean that he had to actually do something rather than just talking about it.

The saying that actiona speak louder than words is well known – but the very different approach to these two issues by David Cameron suggests that our Prime Minister would far prefer to be a man of (cheap) words, than one of (expensive actions). Words are meaningless unless they are followed up by some physical commitment.

In part, the British PM is no doubt worried that the return of such a high profile artefact as the Koh-i-noor, a diamond famous around the world, that forms part of the crown jewels. He is worried that restitution could be a vote loser, whereas, the clamour of voices for return is still not loud enough for its continued retention to be seen as cause for concern. Where people think that there is a just case for return (of any artefacts), they must continue to make their feelings known – letting the current owners know that the issue is not going to go away if it is ignored – that some sort of compromise or negotiated agreement needs to be met. Almost always, there is potential for an agreement that can benefit both sides – but it often involves thinking outside the box, to consider what each side has that may benefit the other & most of all, to put aside worries about any temporary loss of face that may be caused by doing the right thing.

Throughout all of this, we must remember that the Koh-i-noor (like many other restitution cases) is a complex issue. Different parties take different positions on the circumstances of the original acquisition – was it a spoil of war, or a legitimate exchange? If someone’s hand is forced in making a deal, does the deal still hold the same legitimacy? Furthermore, India is not the only country claiming ownership of the gem – so even if it returned, they might then have to deal with other restitution claims from Iran, Pakistan & Afghanistan (these are the potential claimants that I know of – there may well be others).

Modern India is a very different place, from the one that gave up the diamond to Britain in 1849 – in much the same way as contemporary Greece bears little resemblance to 1800, when it formed an outpost of the Ottoman empire. If Britain wants to deal with (& benefit from the wealth of) these modern countries, perhaps it needs to do something to put right some of the actions that reduced their culture in the past – rather than just returning again wanting to take more (albeit in a very different way).

Where does this all leave the Elgin Marbles? Well, Cameron has previously made his (ill informed) views on this subject clear in the past, so the fact that he has not had a sudden change of heart should not be seen as a big surprise. What is ridiculous however, is his lumping of completely different cases together under the one umbrella – the suggestion that all cases should be dealt with by a single statement, rather than even starting to consider the varying individual merits & circumstances of each one.

Cameron upsets many with the use of the term Elgin Marbles – a phrase that has for a long time been deprecated by the British Museum & that (while known to the public), is no longer taken as being the correct name for these sculptures. Use of such terms in public statements, suggests that he has only a passing acquaintance with the actual facts of these cases, meaning that his cursory brushing away of any suggestions of restitution is all the more galling.

I spoke before of his use of the word returnism – a term that does not seem to have many other mentions elsewhere – perhaps I should not complain too loudly about this though – particularly as the title of this blog is equally guilty of nealogizing… I actually quite like the term – if I hadn’t named this site Elginism, perhaps returnism would have been a good alternative name.

From:
Global Post

Faine Greenwood
February 21, 2013 07:20
Britain doesn’t plan on returning Koh-i-Noor diamond to India, says Cameron

The enormous Koh-i-Noor diamond may have originated in India, but it won’t be returned to its original owners, reiterated British prime minister David Cameron on the third day of an official visit to India this week.

The 105-karat Koh-i-Noor diamond once graced the crown of Queen Elizabeth I and remains an integral part of the British collection of crown jewels, displayed at the Tower of London.
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February 21, 2013

David Cameron argues against returnism, stating that he does not support return of Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 2:50 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

British Prime Minister, David Cameron had already indicated in 2010, that he had no interest in considering the return of the Koh-i-noor diamond to India. During his current visit to the country, he has once again re-iterated his point – but this time extended it to cover other cases such as the Parthenon Marbles (although it is not the first time he has mentioned his views on that case either).

Taking this approach is a great shame. He wants to encourage greater trade links with India, and he has made limited apologies for some of the worst atrocities of colonial rule, but at the same time, his actions suggest that he still believes we are in the age of empire – that Britain can lay down the way problems are to be dealt with & that everyone else had to just buy into it, without any real option to put their point of view across properly.

He argues that the British Museum is already linking up with other museums around the world, but whenever this has taken place, it is very much the British Museum that sets the terms of how the relationship will operate – and in most cases is created to promote a two way traffic (i.e. to enrich the permanent collection in London with high quality temporary loans). Any reciprocal loans are something that they accept as part of some deal, yet it rarely feels as though they are a driving factor.

Cameron talks of returnism – labeling complex cases as though they are all basically the same & can be dealt with by a short comment, whereas the reality is that each case is very different. There is a huge range between cases, from those strong restitution cases where there is a clear argument for return & relatively weak ones, where for most people, the balance might sway in favour of them being retained, perhaps because their original purchase was legitimately made, or perhaps because of when / how they were taken etc.

Certain sectors of Britain’s ruling classes need to wake up to the fact that we no longer have an empire & that times have changed – we might have once led the world, but dragging our heels in the attempts to cling onto the past will be of no help in trying to regain this position.

From:
Kathimerini (English Edition)

Thursday February 21, 2013
Cameron rules out return of Parthenon marbles

British Prime Minister David Cameron has ruled out the return of the so-called Elgin marbles to Greece.

Speaking from India, where he is on an official visit, on Thursday the Tory leader turned down requests for the return of the Koh-i-noor diamond to Britain’s former colony saying he did not believe in “returnism.”
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February 20, 2013

What David Cameron did not apologise for during his trip to India

Posted at 1:54 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

David Cameron made apologies to India, about some of the wrongs committed by the British within the country during the colonial period. The apology stops far short of rectifying all the problems – for instance many in India are unhappy that the Koh-i-Noor diamond still occupies pride of place in the Crown Jewels. There are many more treasures in institutions such as the British Museum that India would also like returned.

From:
BBC News

20 February 2013 Last updated at 13:11
Andrew North South Asia correspondent
What David Cameron did not apologise for

By making a statement of regret over the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, David Cameron has opened up a can of other questions and grievances over Britain’s colonial past.

What about the British museum returning all the treasures looted from India during the Raj? What about sending back the Kohinoor diamond still embedded in Queen Elizabeth’s crown?
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July 23, 2012

850 looted treasures repatriated to Afghanistan from UK

Posted at 9:11 am in British Museum, Similar cases

More coverage of the ongoing attempts by the UK to return various Afghan artefacts, that have been seized by UK border officials. I’m unclear why the number of artefacts has altered significantly since the previous article I posted about it a few days ago.

From:
Independent

Looted treasures returned to Afghanistan by British Museum
Dalya Alberge
Thursday 19 July 2012

The British Museum, aided by British police and the UK Border Force, has helped return to Afghanistan hundreds of looted antiquities seized from smugglers, The Independent can reveal.

David Cameron will announce in Afghanistan today that 850 treasures have been repatriated, having been passed to the British Museum for safeguarding following their confiscation in Britain over the last two years.
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April 2, 2012

Stephen Fry’s support for the return of the Marbles

Posted at 1:15 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

While any extra publicity of the return of the Parthenon Marbles is great, I’m unclear if Stephen Fry has actually said anything new about the Marbles since his blog post in December (although if you read comments on twitter, you would think that this was a completely new statement). This article ties in with the open letter to the British Prime Minister asking for the sculptures to be returned.

From:
Guardian

Stephen Fry lends support to Greek calls to return Elgin marbles to Athens
Helena Smith in Athens
Sunday 1 April 2012 19.08 BST

Greek campaigners seeking the return of the Parthenon marbles have renewed their efforts with an open letter imploring David Cameron to back the restitution of the classical carvings “to their historic home in Athens”.

Stephen Fry is lending his support for the return of what are also known as the Elgin marbles.

Weighing in to one of the world’s most controversial cultural disputes, the actor proposed that Britain “redress a great wrong” by using the occasion of the 2012 London Olympics to give up the fifth-century masterpieces. Nearly 200 years after the sculptures were acquired by the British Museum their return would not only be “classy”, he argued, but a much-needed morale booster for a country mired in crisis.
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An open letter to David Cameron for the return of the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 1:06 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

A Greek based campaign for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles have written an open letter to British Prime Minister, David Cameron, calling for their return.

From:
Global Greek World

Saturday, March 31, 2012
Open Letter to Mr David Cameron re The Parthenon Sculptures Issue and the London Olympic Games

The following is the text of the Open Letter to Mr David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, which was issued today by Mr Alexis Mantheakis, Chairman of the International Parthenon Sculptures Action Committee Inc (NZ), requesting the repatriation of the Parthenon Sculptures. We are pleased to be part of the IPSACI movement from the very first day, supporting Greece’s just demand for the return home of these unique works of art pillaged by Elgin and which remain imprisoned at the British Museum…

To The Rt. Honourable Mr. David Cameron

Dear Prime Minister,

Re – The Parthenon Sculptures Issue and the London Olympic Games

My country, Greece is currently suffering from one of the worst upheavals in its history, with its institutions and economy hanging in the balance and its people being subjected to unprecedented peacetime suffering and tensions for reasons every Greek citizen and politician knows. In the past we, of Greece, a small but inordinately proud nation, stood virtually alone at your side when Europe collapsed during the Second World War. Despite the terrible cost we would have to pay in lives and property we did not, as your allies, hesitate for a moment to stand up to the vastly numerically superior forces of Hitler and Mussolini, turning the tide of the war long enough to delay the deployment of German forces to attack on the Eastern front. The result was, as your eminent predecessor Sir Winston Churchill declared “If there had not been the virtue and courage of the Greeks, we do not know which the outcome of World War II would have been.”
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March 16, 2012

London riots & the Benin Empire

Posted at 1:53 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Following on from the comments made before about the London Riots, this article looks at how they compare to the looting of Benin in 1897 by British forces.

From:
Modern Ghana

Of Youths, London Riots, Benin Empire et al
By Augustine Togonu-Bickersteth
Feature Article | Sat, 20 Aug 2011

Example is better than precept so we should tell my Kid Brother, David Cameron, Prime Minister of United Kingdom in response to his utterances following the London riots characterised by looting and Arson following the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan by the London Metropolitan Police.

Those Youths and Arsonists are now being tried in Courts of Law for stealing things like Ice cream, Chewing Gum and Table Water. Some of the Youths are being charged for taking more tangible things like Ipods, Ipads,Lap Tops and Flat screen Televisions sets
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June 23, 2011

British Prime Minister does not want the Elgin Marbles returned

Posted at 2:39 pm in Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

More coverage of David Cameron’s rebuttal of Andrew George’s Prime Minister’s Questions on the Parthenon Marbles.

You can watch the video coverage of it on the BBC’s website. The relevant part is 20:40 into the clip.

From:
The Guardian

David Cameron rejects call to return Parthenon marbles to Greece
PM dismisses suggestion by Liberal Democrat that collection of classical Greek marble sculptures should be returned to Athens
Hélène Mulholland, political reporter, Wednesday 22 June 2011 14.50 BST

David Cameron has rejected a call for Britain to “put right a wrong” that dates back just short of two centuries by returning the Parthenon marbles to Greece.

Andrew George, the Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, reopened the issue of the marble sculptures, currently in the British Museum, when he incorporated the Greek financial crisis in a Commons question.
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David Cameron is asked about the return of the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 1:58 pm in Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

Andrew George MP, Chair of the Marbles Reunited campaign has asked during Prime Ministers questions whether now should be the time to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece. Unfortunately, his suggestion was strongly rejected by the Prime Minister – although it clarify the views of the current government on the subject – something that was assumed previously, but had not been confirmed.

From:
Andrew George MP

ANDREW GEORGE MP, HOUSE OF COMMONS, LONDON SW1A 0AA
PRESS RELEASE, Wednesday 22nd June 2011, For immediate release
Losing our marbles?

The MP who leads the British campaign for the restitution of the Parthenon Marbles called upon the Prime Minister not to provide a unilateral contribution to the Greek bail out but to give the Marbles back.

In his question to the PM he said that the return of the ‘Elgin’ Marbles would help to regenerate the flagging Greek economy and put right a wrong committed over 200 years ago.

The Prime Minister refused to consider such a proposal but Mr George argues that public opinion is on his side and that following the recent creation of the new Acropolis Museum Athens would be a far better place for the Marbles, whilst the casts which the British Museum sent to Athens to replace them could be returned for display in London.

ENDS

October 19, 2010

The Indian government is not asking for the return of the Koh-i-Noor diamond

Posted at 8:20 pm in Similar cases

Despite what press coverage may imply, the Indian Government has stated that (for whatever reasons) it is not trying to return the Koh-i-Noor diamond to India. The people of India may be asking for the return of this (& other artefacts), but clearly the government would prefer not to be involved. The statement by the government may be for diplomatic reasons as they do not want to enter into an argument with Britain, or it could be that they see it as campaign that unfortunately has little chance of success.

From:
The Hindu

New Delhi, August 18, 2010
No plans to bring back the Kohinoor: Centre

Demands from several quarters for the return of the Kohinoor from Britain notwithstanding, the government on Wednesday said it has no plans to bring the precious diamond back to the country.

It also said it was not contemplating to bring the Peacock Throne from Iran as these items are not covered under the UNESCO convention that deals with restitution of cultural property.
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October 13, 2010

David Cameron’s statements on the Koh-i-Noor

Posted at 1:12 pm in Similar cases

Further coverage of the statements by British Prime Minister David Cameron, that he was not ready to consider Indian requests for the return of the Koh-i-Noor diamond.

From:
Desi Blitz

Cameron and The Kohinoor
Should the jewel in Britain’s crown return to India? David Cameron was challenged on his recent trip to India about the Kohinoor diamond. As Britain seeks beneficial trade with India, questions over ownership of this precious gem arise.
By Roz Euan-Smith • August 12, 2010

The Kohinoor diamond, meaning “mountain of light,” has a tumultuous history. Frequently passing hands as loot, it has belonged to the British since 1849, when the Punjab was formally proclaimed to be part of the British Empire in India. The diamond was given to Queen Victoria of England. Highly prized for its size and brilliance, the diamond is the centrepiece of the late Queen Mother’s crown.

India has repeatedly asked for the jewel to be returned, and David Cameron’s recent visit was no exception. However, he flatly refused to return the diamond.
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September 30, 2010

Has hanging onto other nations cultural property become more important than exhibiting our own?

Posted at 1:08 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

For many years, certain elements of the British Press liked to suggest that Greece was incapable of looking after the Parthenon Marbles if they ever were returned. During the construction of the New Acropolis Museum, questions were again raised about every possible aspect of the way the museum was being built & the way the artefacts would be displayed. The New Acropolis Museum does however have many parallels with the proposed Stone henge Visitor Centre.

Both Stone Henge & The Athenian Acropolis are iconic examples of their historical epochs. For a long time, both sites had planned on building new visitor centres, but the projects were plagued by delays lasting decades that stopped any meaningful progress. Now however, Greece has a brand new Acropolis Museum, while visitors to Stone Henge still have to make do with distinctly lacklustre visitor facilities that mainly consist of a tunnel around the road containing a gift shop & some information boards. The British Museum makes much of how the Parthenon Marbles can be seen in their institution for free, but on the other hand, Stone Henge (with or without visitor centre) charges an admission centre except to National Trust or English Heritage members.

From:
New York Times

The Age of Austerity Challenges Stonehenge
By JULIA WERDIGIER
Published: August 11, 2010

STONEHENGE, England — The prehistoric monument of Stonehenge stands tall in the British countryside as one of the last remnants of the Neolithic Age. Recently it has also become the latest symbol of another era: the new fiscal austerity.

Renovations — including a plan to replace the site’s run-down visitors center with one almost five times bigger and to close a busy road that runs along the 5,000-year-old monument — had to be mothballed in June. The British government had suddenly withdrawn £10 million, or $16 million, in financing for the project as part of a budget squeeze.
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