Saturday, 18 August 2018

Blood Buddhas: India’s Looted Past and Terrorism Funding

The black market for looted artefacts is generating millions of dollars for crime and terrorism, but the trade is generating big business in another, perhaps unexpected, location: India (Maya Margit, 'India’s Looted Past and Terrorism Funding' The Media Line August 16, 2018).  The problem extends far beyond Iraq and Syria, and far beyond the Middle East and North Africa. An antiquities expert claims that India is a top source of funding for terror groups . Tess Davis, Executive Director of the non-profit Antiquities Coalition is quoted as saying that  the Global Terrorism Index ranks India as one of the top ten countries with the most terrorist activity and points out that 'it doesn’t require the sale of many artifacts to finance a major attack'.
India’s illegal antiquities trade has become particularly problematic in the United States, where a majority of loot smuggled in from abroad comes from the Asian country. “In 2016 alone, $79,092,426 worth of India’s arts and antiquities came into the U.S., and that’s just as declared imports,” Davis said. “It’s impossible to know how many of these are looted and how many others came in undeclared. But we’re talking about big money. However, anyone thinking of buying one of these pieces should remember, while there is a large ‘legal’ market, there are few legal sources of ancient Indian art. Most pieces were hacked off from sacred sites at some point in their history.” [...] Many Indian artifacts are also smuggled across the porous borders of Kashmir or Bangladesh. “We’re currently tracking a lot of banking transactions that end in Hong Kong and Bangkok and then those funds are [redirected] back towards India [...]
The India Pride Project (IPP) run by Anuraag Saxena is an organization that works to recover India’s stolen artifacts. The five-year old group relies on a network of volunteers across the globe who use social media to track and identify pillaged artifacts.
“More stuff reaches the U.S. from India than the rest of the world put together,” Saxena conveyed to The Media Line. “Fifty-two percent of art and heritage recorded going into the United States originates in India,” a situation he attributes to Delhi having “de-prioritized” cultural issues due to more pressing matters. “The whole genesis of the IPP is that history belongs to its people, and if nobody else will ensure [that this happens], then we will,” Saxena affirmed. The Singapore-based art enthusiast added that while India does currently have an antiquities protection law in place, the country is simply not equipped to deal with conservation and has no authority tasked with enforcement. “We’ve not had one significant heritage criminal convicted, ever [in India’s history],” he emphasized. 
Lynda Albertson, CEO of the Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA) said that the prevalence of the illegal trade is directly tied to a general lack of funding for groups combating it.
“Around the globe there are a number of experts tracking illicit antiquities who do so as unpaid volunteers,” she told The Media Line, pointing to IPP as a prime example. “While international government institutions and the press repeatedly voice concerns about how the channels of illicit trafficking of antiquities may have tie-ins to potential funding for terrorism and organized crime, no one, currently, is willing to step up to the plate and to commit to funding the work of these scholars.” The result is that criminals involved in the black market can sell their stolen wares through auction houses or online without much scrutiny or consequences. 

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.