A united contingent of campaigners seeking the restitution of the Parthenon marbles to Greece will travel to London later this year, to apply pressure on the British government.
The contingent will be spearheaded by Chairman of the International Organising Committee Australia for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles Emanuel Comino, and famed South African human rights lawyer George Bizos.
They will participate in a conference on the topic, to be held on June 19 and 20, at the Hellenic Centre in London.
The conference has been timed to coincide with the lead up to the Olympic games.
Members of the conference will also seek a meeting with the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, to discuss with him the latest issues surrounding the repatriation of the marbles.
“We’re not going to go there causing a riot or anything like that … we believe in going with the pen and not the bayonet,” Mr Comino says.
“I feel that the most important thing is to get the British authorities together with the Greek authorities … to sit down and discuss the matter in the friendliest and most respectful manner, to solve this issue,” he says.
Melburnians rallied in support of the restitution of the marbles last weekend, with about 200 people attending a lecture delivered by Mr Comino at the Greek Community Centre.
The campaign has also received a boost, with the creation of a South African restitution committee in 2011, headed-up by Mr Bizos.
It is one of 25 known committees, fighting for the restitution of the marbles.
In an address at the inaugural meeting of the South African committee, Mr Bizos reinforced the need to open a civil dialogue between the interested parties – Britain and Greece.
“It is said that it does not help to repeatedly knock on the door of the deaf … We who believe in the reunification of the Parthenon marbles should say that if you knock often and hard enough, you may eventually break it down,” Mr Bizos said.
The restitution campaign has also received support from renowned British actor Stephen Fry.
In a recent essay on the issue, Fry wrote that Britain should right a historical wrong by agreeing to return the marbles on the eve of the 2012 Olympics.
“What greater gesture could be made to Greece in its appalling financial distress? An act of friendship, atonement and an expression of faith in the future of the cradle of democracy would be so, well just so damned classy,” Fry wrote.
More information can be found at www.parthenonmarblesaustralia.org.au