The leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has joined the vain chorus of calls urging the British Museum to return the stolen Parthenon Marbles to Greece, pleas it has ignored for decades.
In an interview with the Greek newspaper Ta Nea, Corbyn stressed that the sculptures “belong” in Greece, and should be returned to their home. A new Acropolis Museum, designed to showcase the stolen goods, opened in 2009 and in 2017 was ranked by Trip Advisor as the world’s eight best – ahead of the British Museum.
Corbyn noted that it was a British diplomat, Scotsman Lord Elgin, who removed the marbles from the Parthenon with the permission of the ruling Ottoman Occupation, aking nearly half of the Parthenon frieze, 15 metopes, and 17 pedimental fragments, in addition to a caryatid and a column from the Erechtheion.
He used these antiquities to decorate his mansion in Scotland and then later sold them to the British Museum in an attempt to repay his escalating debt. Museum officials said they now belong to the museum and not Greece and refuse to send them back.
Corbyn said the British government had sent stolen treasures back to other countries it occupied as a Colonial ruler and should do the same for Greece although anti-nationalist Premier and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said they aren’t Greek anymore and belong to the world and won’t fight for them.
It was the late actress and former Greek Culture Minister Melina Mercouri who refused to call them the Elgin Marbles, dubbing them the Parthenon or Greek Marbles and who focused renewed attention on their return.