Don't Criminalise Restitution Protests!

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It is with the utmost alarm that we note the fundamentally unjust efforts to criminalise those campaigning for the restitution of stolen African artefacts, as well as human remains held in British cultural institutions, including the British Museum and the V&A.

There have been longstanding peaceful appeals for restitution of these artefacts, many of which were looted in violent, punitive raids during the Age of Empire and Colonisation. Significant recomemndations for restitution have already been made in the wake of the Sarr Savoy Report.  The French President, Emmanuel Macron, has endorsed the Report's recommendations and is committed to returning artefacts held in French cultural institutions. So options for peaceful resolution of these issues are already on the table, without the need to criminalise protestors.   

Attempts to criminalise those participating in these campaigns should be avoided at all costs, not least when we consider the initial violent and murderous circumstances in which these collections were acquired. Criminalising the descendants of those original victims intensifies the original crimes.

Instead UK cultural institutions should be opening badly needed spaces to engage diaspora communities in discussion and negotiations around return of their looted patrimony. 

We urge you sign this petition to show solidarity with Isiah Ogundele who is the first person to be arrested and charged following an incident at the Museum of London Docklands earlier this year.

For more information about this movement please visit Return of the Icons.