Friday 5 December 1997 was Parthenon Day. For the first time since Melina Mercouri, as Greek Minister of Culture, officially requested the return of the Parthenon Marbles, ordinary people had their say. An international day of action was organised so that supporters of the return of the Marbles around the world could express their views to the British government and the British Museum. Below you can read reports from around the World on Parthenon Day.
Mass emailing -- worldwide demand for negotiations
Only the British government and the British Museum know how successful the mass
emailing was. However we do know that 1200 letters were sent from the
Parthenon Day and Parthenon Marbles web sites to the British Museum and the
British government using the email letter that was available for sending from
-- 13,000 sign petition, students march to British
, who thought of the idea of Parthenon Day, sent us his impressions of the
demonstration in London.
There were about 150-200 marchers and a 13,000 signature petition was handed to the Director of the BM (Eleni Cubitt of the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles was impressed that he came to receive it). I spoke with Eleni and met William Stewart (maker of the Channel 4 programme on the Parthenon Marbles, who spoke later at the public meeting) who is an excellent speaker on the subject. The event was well organised from this end and it was something that I would not have wanted to miss at all.
From what I could gather, there were two Greek TV film crews, a couple of Greek journalists and a journalist from The Times. I think the media attention in Greece was more than here, but ideally it needed to be the other way around. At least something happened - albeit out of the UK media spotlight. Maybe next year a bigger event should be held....!
Diaspora, with the help of the Hellenic Society of the University of Reading, organised an event one day before Parthenon Day. In the theatre of the Faculty of Letters at that University, Dr. Tim Duff gave a lecture on the History of the Parthenon. Dr. Duff got his PhD in Cambridge in 1994 and he is now a lecturer at the Classics Department of the University of Reading. The video tape of the broadcast "fifteen-to-one special" by William Stewart and the British Channel 4 on the Parthenon Marbles, followed the lecture. It was an offer of the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles, which we gratefully thank. More than 300 signatures were collected in Reading and a large delegation of Greek students from that University was present in the main demonstration to the British Museum on Parthenon Day.
-- TV gives prominent coverage, SAE conference passes
motion of support
By Ian Swindale
Three of the Parthenon Marbles web site team were active in campaigning for Parthenon Day. We sent a press release by email to all the Greek mass media. We were interviewed on Nostos, an ET3 programme which is viewed via satellite throughout the world. On Parthenon Day we were interviewed again for the news on ET1, the main channel of Greek state television. The later editions included film of the demonstration in London as well as our interview.
In Rethymno, Crete, 2,000 signatures were collected for the petition and sent to the British Embassy in Athens.
WORLD COUNCIL OF HELLENES
In Thessaloniki, The World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) First World Convention supported Parthenon Day. In its session on 5 December, on the occasion of Parthenon Day, a motion was proposed by Mr Stefanos P. Tamvakis, President of SAE Asia-Africa Region, to the General Assembly of SAE proposing that the Convention continue the work of the late Melina Mercouri and support the efforts of the Union of Hellenic Students Societies in Great Britian by adding its voice to those of Hellenes and Philhellenes the world over in protest against the British stance on the Parthenon Marbles.
This motion was passed unanimously by the Executive Board and Delegates in attendance at the World Convention, who in doing so called on the British government to open negotiations with the Greek government for the return of the Parthenon marbles to their rightful home.
The British Ministry of Culture was notified of the decision of the nine-member Executive Board and 350 Delegates of SAE.
* The World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) is a world-wide, non-profit
organisation which serves an advisory role to the Greek government and
represents the interests and concerns of some six million expatriate Greeks
living around the world.
Diaspora, with the support of major Hellenic Associations of the
Washington DC Metropolitan Area, participating in the Parthenon Day Event,
organized a talk with Christopher Hitchens. The event got so much
attention, that we had to switch to the large auditorium at the IFC/World
Bank building. The event was sold out. Christopher himself was amazed.
He said, he has never seen such a large crowd, for such an issue, ever. He
was very impressed, as were our guests, some of whom were
journalists from major newspapers, or people that work in major US think
We must have done a good job, because the Washington Post advertised the lecture on Thursday, and in Outlook, which is the prime Editorial page of the Washington Post, there was a huge article about cultural treasures around the world, with extended references to the Parthenon Marbles. It is ironic that although many of our compatriots did not want to give publicity to these efforts in Washington, the Washington Post, one of the most highly respected newspapers in the US, gave us prime coverage! You will very rarely see something like this not just for the Parthenon Marbles, but for ANY issue related to Greece for that matter! The Post article is "balanced" but I think our points are coming through.
-- Greek community backs call
Alexandria, Egypt. 5th December 1997
The Hellenic community of Alexandria is happy to contribute to Parthenon Day and takes this opportunity to wish the organisers every success.
The suggestion that we raise a petition in support of this effort was made by a pupil of the Averof High School, Alexandria, after visiting the Parthenon Marbles website. The idea was greeted with great enthusiasm by all who were approached and many of those who signed asked that their personal congratulations and best wishes be passed on to the organisers.
A petition consisting of 170 signatures was submitted to the British Consulate, Alexandria, on Thursday 4th December. This was faxed by Consular Officials to the British Ministry of Culture in London.
The signatures on this petition included those of :
Signatures from interested parties outside the Greek community :
Dear Mr. Swindale,
My name is Nicholas Mantouvalos. I'm fourteen years old and I live in Alexandria, Egypt. When I saw your Parthenon Day site on the internet I was very interested and I thought I could help. I started a petition and managed to collect 170 signatures from Greeks in Alexandria, students from the Alexandria University and from some important members of the Archaeological community. This petition was faxed to the British Ministry of Culture in London from the British Consulate in Alexandria. I hope this small contribution will help. Also I want to congratulate you on your efforts and wish you success.
-- Greek community says "Return the Marbles"
by Trisevyeni Kopsiafti-Parker
Prior to Parthenon Day I was able to give a TV interview, broadcast on Sunday, November 23, on CFMT-TV (southern Ontario region) and a radio interview, broadcast on Thursday, November 27, on CHIN-Radio Ex-Gen Program. An article also appeared in "Nea tou Hamilton".
TetNet internet Promotions, Inc. put a banner up on News and linked the Parthenon website to 4 locations on the Greek Village Online (http//:www.greekvillage.com)
Mrs. Alexandra Papadopoulou, General Consular, allowed the petitions to be put in the offices of the Consulate of Greece.
Mr. Demetrios Steliotis - Financial Coordinator for the Greek Community of Metropolitan Toronto permitted me to attend the community elections to collect signatures for the petition.
Others who helped in the distributing/collecting of petitions especially to
their Hellenic organizations include:
Kostas Alexopoulos, President Hellenic Student's Association of Seneca College, Toronto, (H.S.A.- SENECA) and Liason Officer for Hellenic Inter-university & college Council of Canada (H.I.C.C.)
John Syros, President, Hellenic Society, McMaster University, Hamilton, and Treasurer of H.I.C.C.
Constantinos Coursaris, President of H.I.C.C., Carleton University, Ottawa
Miltiades Koutetes, President, Hellenic Student's Association, York University, Toronto.
Just over 3,200 signatures were collected and sent to England. Photocopies were to the British High Commission in Ottawa. This number does not however reflect petitions that the Hellenic students wished to hold on to a bit longer and will no doubt send also. Kostas Alexopoulos has assumed this responsibility.
The Greek Embassy called me on Wednesday and wanted to know what we were doing here. I explained what had been done and went on to say that next year's effort will be much bigger given the fact that the ground work had been laid and credibility established.