Baku-Led Campaign calls for France to return stolen cultural artifacts to source countries

Following the "Decolonization: Awakening of Consciousness" conference organized by Baku Initiative Group in Istanbul, international civil society organizations have initiated a campaign.

A petition has been launched, appealing to French President Emmanuel Macron to return more than 90,000 looted cultural and material artifacts stolen from Africa to their countries of origin, SIA reports.

Currently displayed in French museums, these cultural treasures were plundered during the colonial period from African countries. The fate of stolen historical and cultural items from the Sahara region remains uncertain.

In 2017, President Emmanuel Macron promised during a meeting with African youth that cultural assets from Africa should be exhibited in Africa, pledging the return of each cultural and historical item within five years.

Despite seven years passing since that commitment, Macron has yet to fulfill his promise.

Research indicates that two-thirds of the 70,000 artifacts exhibited at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris were stolen from Africa between 1885 and 1960.

France has strengthened its legislation to withhold restitution of stolen wealth from its former colonies. Consequently, the implementation of restitution is hindered by bureaucratic processes.

Initially, cultural assets can be temporarily exhibited in museums in source countries based on contracts using a credit system, a practice already applied in other former colonial nations in Europe.

Baku Initiative Group urges the French government to amend its legislation, return stolen artifacts to their source countries, and compensate nations that are the rightful legal owners of these historical artifacts, acting as illegal possessions.

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