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PM Asks Foreigners to Return Stolen Artifacts to Cambodia

PHNOM PENH: Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested foreign museums and other institutions that currently hold or exhibit stolen Khmer artifacts to voluntarily return them to Cambodia.

"Respect is an expression of ethics, contributing to the promotion of national culture, reconciliation and the healing of the Cambodian people who have experienced war and the tragedy of genocide,” said the Prime Minister, while presiding over the handover ceremony for Khmer antiquities on Friday morning, 17 March 2023, at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh.

He emphasized that today's handover ceremony is a major achievement for Cambodia but also reflects the importance of good cooperation with other countries, and the active participation of the international community in the global campaign to combat the theft and illegal trade of cultural property.

The Prime Minister continued that Cambodia is currently collecting more evidence on the illegal theft of ancient Cambodian artifacts, while also negotiating the return of certain artifacts with all parties concerned. He also commended the governments of various countries and all stakeholders involved for contributing to the repatriation of Cambodia’s lost treasures.

The Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, Phoeurng Sackona, confirmed that 77 pieces of antique jewelry made of gold were returned from England to Cambodia on 17 February 2023.

She said nine statues had been stolen from Chen temple in Koh Ker (the 10th century capital of the Khmer empire) during a period of civil war and domestic insecurity in Cambodia. As of today, seven statues have been returned to the Kingdom, while two still remain missing.

She added that Cambodia is currently working with a number of foreign countries, including the United States, and a host of private individuals, to process the return of more stolen cultural artifacts.



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