Friday, 6 August 2010

Why the Silence Over Violations of "Rights"?

In my discussion of the seizure in Canada of some coins and other antiquities exported from Bulgaria, I asked: Will the public ever learn anything about the intended destination of the items seized, so people can make their own minds up about the no-questions-asked trade in antiquities?

The fact that the people involved in most such cases are passed over not only in silence, but details are actively suppressed is telling. Somebody in Canada was waiting for those coins to come, probably they had already been paid for, and they did not arrive.

As we have seen, "collectors "rights" lobbyists consistently insist that in the business practices of North American dealers and collectors, "no North American law is broken". That is the basis for their claim that the whole business is not only legal, but legitimate and ethical.

The same lobbyists claim that buying material imported from foreign source countries is their "collectors' rights". They further claim that these "rights" are being eroded under the influence of archaeologists, gubn'mint agents and other evil people. This is the basis for their militant "internationalist" stance.

Imagine a normal bloke in a normal democracy like the UK, Canada or the USA, confronted by an over-zealous official overstepping the mark who accuses them of doing something wrong when they are in fact fully within their rights. If they are offered the choice between paying a 100 000 Euro fine to keep it quiet or going to court to contest the accusation of wrongdoing, what are they going to do? Pay the fine, sit back and say nothing? Or come out in public protest against the wrong that has been done and the officials that have infringed his personal rights?

Is it not odd that when seizures like this take place, the "wronged" party, the importer, invariably stays silent? If charges are hardly ever brought in such cases, what have they got to hide?

Where is the ACCG? Why are they not publicising the "wrong" that has been done to "Mr X"? The guy is 100 000 Euros out of pocket, a crippling loss to a small business for example in these financially difficult times. Or is this business such a big one that the sudden and unexpected loss of 100 000 Euros worth of stock is but a drop in the ocean?

Nevertheless, surely the "collectors' rights" organizations should be using cases like these of the "wrongs" that are being done against these busnesses, against collectors in their public agitation to get these "collectors' rights" in the public eye and get public support behind the coiney "internationalist" movement. Silence over the "victims" of these seizures allows their presentation in the media as nameless miscreants, but these martyrs for the "internationalist" cause should (surely) be holding their heads high and coming out in public to protest their case and the wrongs that have been done, and to make officials think again before repeating such actions. Why then, allow the state media hide their names, nay - even suppress them? The ACCG are clearly letting the other side pus them around if they do not fight this suppression of the information aout the identity of the "victims" of state-sponsored cultural property repression. At least that is what would result from the logic of their own arguments. So why are they not naming the victims, why are they not naming and shaming the officials (public servants after all) responsible for "infringing their rights"?

For all their talk about "transparency", there is a singular lack of transparency over this particular area where groups like the ACCG would argue "collectors' rights" are being actively infringed upon. Why? That is simply illogical.

Who is "Mr X"?

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