Greek Australians Lead Way in Demanding Return of Parthenon Sculptures

Several of the Parthenon Sculptures. Photo credit: Athens News Agency-Macedonian News Agency

The nation of Australia has taken steps to intensify the international pressure placed on Great Britain to return the priceless Parthenon Sculptures back to Greece from the British Museum in London.

Choosing to speak out on May 21, the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, Australian officials, working along with the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports, lobbied all UN member countries to demand that the looted Parthenon Marbles be returned to Greece.

Many figures belonging to the Parthenon Marbles are currently on display at the British Museum, after having been chipped away from the iconic building in the early 1800’s by men working for Great Britain’s Ambassador to Constantinople, Lord Elgin, during the days of Ottoman rule in Greece.

In seeking their return from the Museum, Elly Symons, Vice President of Australians for the Return of the Parthenon Sculptures, noted, “Born in Greece, sculpted in Pentelic marble and carved on the Acropolis, creating the most valuable architecture of Western Culture, are the Parthenon Marbles.”

She continued, “This is the biggest art crime in history. Their restoration will honor the friendship between England and Greece. This flawless beauty lives only in the Attican light. The reunification of the Sculptures in Athens is an artistic, cultural and moral imperative,” according to a report from the website neoskosmos.com.

Members of the Association also sent letters to Greek Culture and Sports Minister Lina Mendoni, proposing a coordinated strategy to increase pressure on the British Museum to return the Parthenon sculptures to Athens.

Additionally, in a joint statement, Emanuel Comino and Russel Darnley, representing a group called the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, said, “Now the British government has a chance to show a leading role, to correct an injustice and to return the sculptures to Greece,” as reported in the Neoskosmos story. Comino is a Vice President of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures. He is also founder and chair of the International Organising Committee – Australia – for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles.

Further, Cultural Minister Mendoni has set a date in early 2022 for an international meeting of all interested groups to coordinate their actions to increase pressure on the British government for the return of the Sculptures. The meeting will be sponsored by the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports.

Writing in The Australian on Thursday, Dimitris Gonis, a lecturer at Latrobe University, also discussed the need for the British to return the stolen Parthenon Sculptures to Greece.

“The Parthenon is to Greece what the Pyramids are to Egypt, the Colosseum is to Rome, Stonehenge is to Britain, or Uluru is to Aboriginal Australians. Everyone knows who they belong to.

“Built between 447 and 438 BCE, The Parthenon represents the most sublime expression of harmony between the Ancient Greeks and the universe around them — a ­religious statement conveyed in brilliant symmetry and comprised of materials steeped in the spirituality of the Greek terrain.”