Ancient artefact back in Kingdom

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Repatriated medicine Buddha. Source: Khmer Times 20190404
Repatriated medicine Buddha. Source: Khmer Times 20190404
Repatriated medicine Buddha. Source: Khmer Times 20190404

via Khmer Times, 4 Apr 2019: Another artefact repatriated to Cambodia. This medicine Buddha sculpture was reportedly taken from Angkor Wat in the 1930s.

After decades of being overseas, the “King of Khmer Medicine” artefact has been returned by a Cambodian-American man who bought it in the United States.

The National Museum yesterday held a welcoming ceremony for the ancient Buddhist statue.

David Leng, the man who brought the statue, said it came from Hawaii, and that it was handed to the government in order to allow younger generations of Cambodians to know their ancestral heritage.

Source: Ancient artefact back in Kingdom – Khmer Times

Collector donates 104 ancient artifacts to Thailand

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Source: Bangkok Post 20190222
Source: Bangkok Post 20190222
Source: Bangkok Post 20190222

via Bangkok Post, 22 Feb 2019 and other sources: A private collector from Thailand returns over 100 artifacts to the Fine Arts Department. It is not stated how the artifacts came to his possession.

Collector Thammarit Jira has donated 104 historical artifacts dating back as far as 4,300 years to the government for safekeeping as national treasures.

They were handed over at the Bangkok National Museum on Friday, where they were accepted by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

“These ancient objects are very precious and useful for the study of archaeological subjects and Thai history… This is a good example, and will encourage Thai people, including younger people, to love and protect our national treasures,” Gen Prayut said.

The prime minister said Mr Thammarit’s action should inspire other collectors to follow suit.

Source: Collector donates 104 ancient artifacts to state | Bangkok Post: news

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Millennia-Old Thai Antiquities Returned From US Collections

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via Khaosod English, 17 January 2019: Collectors from the US return 46 artefacts, mostly from the Ban Chiang period, to Thailand earlier this month.

BANGKOK — Forty-six ancient artifacts aged thousands of years have been returned to Thailand from collectors in the United States, the Culture Ministry announced Thursday.

Source: Millennia-Old Thai Antiquities Returned From US Collections

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How to Successfully Fight the Illicit Trade in Stolen Art and Antiquities in Asia? Remove an Antiquated English Law from Hong Kong’s Legal System

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via Antiquities Coalition, December 2018: Prof. Steven Gallagher is the other co-convener on the session about Heritage Management Law and Policy in this year’s SPAFACON. Full policy paper in the link below.

The looting of art and antiquities from Asia is a problem exacerbated by continued demand. This is especially true in China, home to one of the greatest concentrations of millionaires worldwide, where a rapidly growing, newly wealthy class has entered the Asian art and antiquities market, escalating demand in an already thriving sector. Many Asian states that have lost and are continuing to lose cultural patrimony to looting and trafficking have introduced strict laws to combat the removal and unlawful export of art and antiquities from their jurisdiction. Transit and market states, too, have now implemented legal and regulatory frameworks, often based on international law, to deter citizens from dealing in looted art and antiquities or buyers from purchasing such goods when there is any doubt as to their provenance.

However, one of the world’s main markets for Asian art and antiquities, as well as a convenient and much-used transit hub, is a notable exception in having almost no laws intended to prevent this illicit trade: Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s legal and regulatory framework offers little protection for looted art and antiquities, and it retains one obsolete rule of law from its time as a British colony that may not only encourage buyers to purchase looted or stolen works, but also embolden those trying to construct false provenance to pass them through Hong Kong. This law is the rule of market overt, often referred to as a “thieves’ charter,” provided in Hong Kong’s Sale of Goods Ordinance. According to market overt, if someone purchases goods from a shop or market where they are openly on display and are of a type usually sold in such a shop or market, then the buyer acquires good title to the goods so long as they have bought them in good faith. This means that a buyer of looted art or antiquities from a shop usually selling art or antiquities in Hong Kong may resist any attempt by the losing party to recover their lost heritage, and may sell the pieces on to others who will also be safe from any action for recovery.`

Hong Kong has a reputation as one of the world’s leading financial and commercial centers, trusted because of rigorous regulation of its efficient financial and banking services, and confidence in its common law system. It is now also considered one of the world’s foremost Asian art and antiquities markets; however, the retention of an archaic and anachronistic principle of English medieval market law is baffling, especially when this principle has been abolished in the United Kingdom to prevent the flourishing of a “thief’s paradise.”

This policy brief explains some of the problems Asia faces with regard to looting of art and antiquities and loss of cultural heritage, and how Hong Kong’s legal and regulatory framework does little to prevent Hong Kong from being used as a market and transit state for illicitly obtained cultural patrimony. The brief recommends the simple repeal of section 24 of the Sale of Goods Ordinance to abolish the market overt rule in Hong Kong, as well as standardization of import and export laws between Hong Kong and China, strengthened law enforcement of antiquity-related crimes, and the inclusion of the art market in anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing provisions.

Source: How to Successfully Fight the Illicit Trade in Stolen Art and Antiquities in Asia? Remove an Antiquated English Law from Hong Kong’s Legal System – Think Tank

The Balangiga Bells and the right to self-determination

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via Philippine Inquirer, 22 Dec 2018: An editorial by a friend Kate Tantuico on the recent return of the Balangiga Bells. Tantuico is also co-convening a session on Heritage Management Law and Policy in this year’s SPAFACON.

During deliberations for the Cultural Heritage Law of 2009 (Republic Act No. 10066), legislators observed that many of our cultural materials remain on display in museums abroad. The late senator Edgardo Angara said he himself saw many Philippine artifacts obtained from underwater sites in Southern Palawan on display in the Newberry Museum in Chicago. Sen. Richard Gordon also mentioned that cannons from Grande Island were taken by American forces and brought to the Smithsonian Institute, despite calls for their return by the people of Olongapo.

On a global scale, the return of colonial cultural materials to their now-sovereign countries of origin is ongoing. In 2015, the Nusantara Museum in Delft, the Netherlands, offered to return 14,000 colonial artifacts to our neighbor Indonesia, which they had ruled as the Dutch East Indies. In March 2018, President Emmanuel Macron of France met with Patrice Talon, his counterpart in the former French possession of Benin. Macron said France will be returning all artifacts taken from Africa, following persistent calls from various ethnic groups in Nigeria. And just last month, The British Museum and France’s Quai Branly Museum declared they will be returning the Benin Bronzes — a collection of sculptures — to Benin and Nigeria after decades of pressure from the latter.

Source: The Balangiga Bells and the right to self-determination | Inquirer Opinion

It’s Time for French Museums to Return Cambodian Artifacts

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via The Diplomat, 13 Dec 2018: France recently returned artefacts to Benin. Why not Cambodia?

The debate as to whether international museums and governments should return cultural artifacts acquired during the colonial period is not a new one. However, it has now been re-energized by French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision that France will return 26 cultural artifacts to Benin. The announcement follows the release of a presidential-commissioned report by French art historian Bénédicte Savoy and Senegalese economist Felwine Sarr, calling for thousands of African cultural artifacts taken during the colonial period to be returned to their respective countries, if requested. Although the report is only limited to Africa, as a former French colony, Cambodia should demand the repatriations of its cultural artifacts as well.

The report could have far-reaching repercussions for international museum housing cultural artifacts taken during the colonial period, and for the colonialized countries wanting their cultural heritage back. With around 90 to 95 percent of Africa’s cultural heritage outside the continent in major museums, the report seeks to rebalance the access former colonized countries have to their own cultural heritage. The report recommends the restitution of “any objects taken by force or presumed to be acquired through inequitable conditions” by the army, scientific explorers, or colonial administrators from the late 19th century until 1960.

Like Benin, Cambodia was also a part of the French Colonial Empire, having joined as a French protectorate in 1863 under the reign of King Norodom. Until the 15th century, Cambodia was a strong regional power; however, by the late 18th century it faced extinction as a sovereign state threatened by both Siam (modern Thailand) and Vietnam. Although the protectorate status ensured Cambodia’s territorial integrity remained intact against its neighbors, France largely controlled Cambodia’s internal and external affairs as a result. Cambodia was designated as a colonie d’exploitation (colony of economic exploitation).

Source: It’s Time for French Museums to Return Cambodian Artifacts | The Diplomat

Categories: Angkor Cambodia

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Balangiga Bells back in Philippines after 117 years

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via ABS-CBN News and other sources: The Balangiga Bells were taken by American forces over a hundred years ago.

Three church bells taken by American soldiers as war booty from Balangiga town, Eastern Samar in 1901, arrived in the Philippines on Tuesday.

The Balangiga Bells, seen by historians as a symbol of Filipino resistance to foreign invaders, were airlifted to the Philippine Air Force headquarters in Villamor Airbase.

They will be returned to Balangiga town later this week.

Source: Balangiga Bells back in Philippines after 117 years | ABS-CBN News

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Thailand Is Ramping Up Efforts to Recover Cultural Heritage From US Museums, Including the Met

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Source: artnet news, 20181106

via artnet news, 06 November 2018: An expanded article based on a news reports in Thailand last week.

Source: artnet news, 20181106

Source: artnet news, 20181106

Thailand has stepped up its efforts to reclaim bronze and stone sculptures that have been in US museum collections for decades. The Kingdom of Thailand’s culture minister announced last week that the country is seeking the return of 23 antiquities, some of which have been housed in the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art since the late 1960s.

Unnamed Institutions in the UK and Australia are also in the Thai government’s sights as it intensifies its efforts to recover sculptures and other artifacts it claims were illegally removed from temples and archaeological sites. Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat is leading a task force to recover more than 700 artifacts in collections abroad that Thailand claims were stolen, the Bangkok Post reports.

Source: Thailand Is Ramping Up Efforts to Recover Cultural Heritage From US Museums, Including the Met | artnet News

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Sombre KLIA ceremony marks repatriation of 27 Kiwi soldiers’ remains

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Malaysia Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu at repatriation ceremony. Source: Yahoo News, 20 August 2018

via Yahoo News, 20 August 2018: Remains of 27 New Zealand soldiers who died in wartime operations in Malaysia are repatriated after a year-long operation to identify and recover their remains.

A disinterment team of 588 bio-archaeologists, forensic anthropologists and other experts started work on March 21 last year, led by Major-General Datuk Dr Haji Mohd Ilham Haji Haron who is a forensic odontology expert at the Defence Ministry’s hospital.
Experts from New Zealand; the Army Museum Port Dickson; the Health Ministry; the Malaysian Nuclear Agency, the Centre for Global Archaeological Research, Universiti Sains Malaysia; the Institute of the Malay World and Civilisation; and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s experts in medicine, odontology and forensic biology also assisted in the victim identification and verification process.

Source: Sombre KLIA ceremony marks repatriation of 27 Kiwi soldiers’ remains