ABC speaks with Greek Australians fighting for the return of the Parthenon marbles to Athens


Greek Australians are pushing to see the Parthenon Marbles repatriated from the British Museum to Athens. 

Elly Symons is the vice-president of the Australian Parthenon Committee and a founder of the Acropolis Research Group.

The Australian-born archaeologist has spent the last eight years campaigning for the return of the marbles. It’s why she studied archaeology and moved to Athens.

“It’s just a very ugly episode in human history that we can wantonly [sic] destroy something so perfect and so unique, a unique part of humanity,” she says.

George Vardas (left), Elly Symons (right)

George Vardas, vice-president of Australians for the Return of the Parthenon Sculptures, hopes to see the marbles returned to their rightful home in his lifetime. 

“I’m now 66. [Within] 20, 30 years, I’d like to think so,” he says.

“If not, my grandson has just turned three. I’m priming him to take over from his granddad who lost his marbles.”

Human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson has his sights set on the United Nations’ International Court of Justice. 

He says it may be the only way to ever see the marbles repatriated. 

“I’m afraid it has to be a legal strategy,” he says.

“The only way that the marbles will ever come back is to have the judgment of the International Court of Justice.”

Geoffrey Robertson QC (Photo: The Greek Herald)

Robertson contests that the marbles were stolen and says any claims that paperwork legitimised Lord Elgin’s acquirement of the marbles in the early 19th century are false. 

“All Elgin could produce to justify his claim of ownership was a letter that had been written by an official at the port to the Ottoman government to the governor of Athens,” he says.

“It didn’t give him any rights other than to enter [the temple] and [sketch] and to pick up stones on the ground.”

The legality of the British Museum’s claim on the marbles is based on this paperwork but the original document has never been found.

“The Sultan never signed anything,” says Robertson.

“This has been claimed but it’s simply a lie.”

Source: ABC News

Read more: It’s time to sue: David Hill, Chairman of ‘Australians for the Return of the Parthenon Sculptures’




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