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British Intervention to Cevat Şakir's Letter at the European Court

Just 7 days prior to the planned filing of the case, the British Ankara Embassy and Istanbul Consulate General have approached Attorney Remzi Kazmaz who is campaigning along with 30 colleagues. Following contact with the Istanbul Consulate General, the British Ambassador in Ankara, David Reddaway, wrote a lengthy and detailed letter to Kazmaz.


The letter from The Ambassador David Reddaway includes some strong, diplomatic and some milder statements;

“Let me first set out the facts about the acquisition of the Mausoleum sculptures and fragments now in London.  They were acquired in 1846, 1857 and 1859 during the course of a series of British initiatives, with firmans (legal permits issued by the Ottoman authorities) that granted permission for the excavation of the site and removal of the material both from the site (1857 and 1859) and from Bodrum Castle (1846 and 1857) to the British Museum. The excavations were conducted on behalf of the British Museum by the distinguished archaeologist Charles (later Sir Charles) Newton, British Vice-Consul at Mytiline, with funds voted by the British Treasury for the purpose. The granting of the necessary permissions to Newton was facilitated in Constantinople by the British Ambassador, Sir Stratford Canning. 

The entire process was public and in accordance with the law of the day.” 


He continued to say; “The sculptures became a very significant part of the British Museum’s collection, which they have remained to this day. Under the care of the Trustees, they are seen free of charge by up to six million visitors each year from all around the world. They are accessible for study to scholars of all nationalities. Information about them is also freely available to a global audience on the British Museum’s collections database, which is visited by some twenty two million users each year. This access promotes global interest in Turkey’s rich cultural heritage.”

At the end of his long letter, Ambassador Reddaway adds that “I am confident that the British Museum would be very happy to work with the relevant authorities in Bodrum to help enhance the information available locally about the Mausoleum.”   


The first attempt to have the monuments, many of which  were taken from Bodrum in the 1850’s by the British in warships and can now be found in the British Museum, from the Mausoleum returned, was made by the ‘Fisherman of Halicarnassus’ (Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı). However, this request was rejected in an arrogantly written letter received from Great Britain years later. In the second letter received from Great Britain some years after that, the only difference was the tone of writing.

Having presented the evidence to the British Embassy in Istanbul, Attorney Remzi Kazmaz and colleagues are currently re evaluating the case, which has received interest from all over the world and was planned to be filed on 30th January.

The procession of Attorney Remzi Kazmaz and 30 other attorneys supported by artisans and the general public for the return of the artefacts from one of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World to their original site has featured widely in the British, Danish, German & American press.


The campaign for the return of the antiquities to Turkey continues with a petition at where digital signatures are being collected from all corners of the globe.


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