Tribute to Ras Seymore McLean

We affirm our conviction that, whatever the rights and wrongs of the case, the dispute between Emperor Tewodros and the British Government over 130 years ago, in no way justified Ethiopia's permanent deprivation of her cultural property.

We declare further that inasmuch as the loot was largely the property of Maqdala's church of Madhane Alam, ie Saviour of the World, it constituted not only an act of injustice, but also one of sacrilege.

We note further that British Governments, while insisting on the unjust retention of this loot, have long recognised the value of restitution. On three occasions, over the last century and a half, Britain, when wishing to purchase Ethiopia's good will, returned a total of four items looted from Maqdala. We urge that such piecemeal restitution for political ends should be replaced by the return of all property looted from Maqdala, as an act of elementary justice.

Our Association, which has held numerous meetings on the subject in Addis Ababa, welcomes the initiative of the British Parliament in establishing your Committee, and trusts that, after due deliberation, your Committee will (1) recognise the injustice of the looting of Maqdala in 1868; and (2) recommend the restitution to Ethiopia of this loot.

May 2000

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