Saturday, August 18, 2007

Ethiopia - Campaign for the Return of an Ethiopian Orthodox Church 'Tabot'

Ethiopia - Campaign for the Return of an Ethiopian OrthodoxChurch 'Tabot'- Holy Altar, in possession with the Westminster Abbey, on the Occasion of the Coming Ethiopian Millennium

Press Release

As Ethiopians celebrate their unique Millennium this coming September, it will be without many of their historical treasures, looted in the past and currently held in several British and other European institutions.

The United Kingdom is the country holding the majority of Ethiopian historical artifacts. Among them we find many early manuscripts, at least one Ethiopian royal crown, a dozen tabots, or altar slabs, golden church crowns, gold chalices, and several processional crosses. All these and other artifacts were looted almost 140 years ago during the British expedition against Emperor Theodros of Ethiopia in 1867-68.

The Westminster Abbey is among the institutions unjustly holding loot from Ethiopia. The Abbey is in possession of an Ethiopian Orthodox Church 'Tabot' or Holy Altar Slab. Dr Berhanu Kassayie, a UK citizenliving in London, has raised a campaign and will handin a petition to the Dean of Westminster Abbey on Thursday 16th August at 2:00 pm. Dr Berhanu, many Orthodox Christians, Ethiopian citizens of Britain and their supporters are asking Westminster Abbey to take a courageous step by returning the Holy Altar Slab to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church on the occasion of forthcoming Ethiopian Millennium.

International justice requires that all looted Ethiopian antiquities be returned to Ethiopia. Demands for restitution have been made in more recent years by the Association for the Return of Ethiopian Maqdala Treasures (AFROMET) which is based in both Ethiopia and Britain. The Ethiopian Millennium provides a perfect opportunity for restitution, and Westminster Abbey should without delay take the courageous step of returning this Ethiopia's historical artifacts to Ethiopia and the Ethiopian people.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church 'Tabot' at Westminster Abbey has no religious, historical or cultural significance to us here in the UK and little is known about its presence. However, to Ethiopians, it isemotionally significant and an invaluable symbol of their religion, rich history and culture. It is part of their lawful heritage and they deserve to see it returned to appreciate the religious and culturalheritage of their ancestors.
From the Campaign statementMore information can be found in the AFROMET website

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