Sunday 13 July 2014

The Walk of Truth

Some of the artefacts seized in the
apartments of Aydin Dikmen
Thanasis Gavos, 'The ‘Monuments WomanCyprus Mail July 13, 2014
Tasoula Hadjitofi, the refugee from Famagusta turned art trafficking adversary, is determined to continue her quest for locating and repatriating stolen treasures from plundered religious and cultural monuments around the world. Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency almost a year after the first 173 artefacts found in Munich in the possession of Turkish art trafficker Aydin Dikmen were officially handed back to Cyprus, Hadjitofi said that her involvement in searching for treasures from the Turkish occupied northern part of the island had been a process of learning. The court of appeals in Munich ruled last March that part of the artefacts found in Dikmen’s possession in 1997 in Munich, should be returned to Cyprus. German police moved in on Dikmen after they received help from the late Archbishop Chrysostomos I, Hadjitofi, Cypriot police and an art-dealer Michel Van Rijn. Most of the items had been taken from churches in the occupied areas after the 1974 invasion.
She is now trying to use her experience to assist other countries too through her non-profit organisation  called Walk of Truth. Last September she organised a conference within the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which analysed the illegal art trafficking chain. There were 35 experts and 70 personalities in total, ambassadors and EU officials.
For her the creation of a common international set of laws is crucial in dealing with art trafficking. “Illegal art dealers would not have a choice of countries where they would be able to act,” she said. But she also considers of paramount importance a different political approach. “It is very important the politicians stop considering culture as a matter of secondary value, as a luxury. Culture is not about entertainment; it is the real voice of the world and its history.”  

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