Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

23 Jul, 2013

Iraq Tourism Minister Blasts U.S. For Not Returning Stolen Relics


BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 22 (NNN-NINA) – Iraqi Tourism Minister, Lava al-Samism, lashed out at the US for taking out and keeping tens of thousands of Iraq’s artifacts illegally. “The US is illegally and illicitly keeping about 90,000 pieces of Iraq’s archaeological artefacts, and Washington has refrained from returning them to Iraq,” al-Samism said.

He noted that his country is anxious that its stolen artefacts be returned to where they belong. Al-Samism said that from Baghdad Museum alone, a number of 15,000 artefacts were stolen in 2003.

Thousands of artefacts were stolen from Iraq’s museums and archaeological sites during the US-led invasion of the country in 2003. Some 15,000 artefacts have been smuggled out of Iraq in the chaotic post-war years.

Jordan and Syria have returned 2,466 and 700 artefacts to Iraq, respectively, while Iraq is still working with Interpol to trace thousands of archaeological pieces still missing.

While Western collectors are reportedly involved in trading stolen Iraqi antiques, the director of Iraq’s National Museum, Donny George Youkhanna, urged collectors to stop buying such artefacts.

A 5,000-year-old Iraqi stone statue was sold for $57 million at a New York auction in 2008.