Recently, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced its decision to return stolen artifacts to Cambodia. Emboldened by this decision, Cambodia is now urging other United States museums to do the same.
According to spokesman for the Council of Ministers, Ek Tha, “We are calling on all American museums and collectors, that if they have these statues unlawfully or illegally they should return them to Cambodia. They should follow the Metropolitan’s lead.”
Cambodian authorities are particularly interested in Khmer antiquities that were acquired by United States museums during the Cambodian civil war. During the war, thieves were able to loot antiquities freely for a period of 20 years. Accordingly, hundreds of Cambodian antiquities acquired after 1970 and housed in the United States do not have a proper paper trail.
Cambodian authorities hope to see the return of these artifacts. In a statement, Cambodian Secretary of State, Chan Tani said, “They are part of our soul as a nation.”