The British authorities have not responded positively to a request by the Sri Lanka the government to hand over cultural properties that had been taken during the colonial era, a Minister said yesterday.
In the past Sri Lanka was subjected to colonial rule under the British, Portuguese and Dutch rulers. Various items of cultural values taken by the colonial authorities have been kept at museums in Lisbon, London and Hague.
National Heritage Minister Jagath Balasuriya told the Daily Mirror that he requested the British authorities through the diplomatic channel to hand over such items to Sri Lanka , but there was no positive response from them.
“Probably, they have a practical difficulty in this case. There were numerous countries colonized in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It may be practically impossible for give back cultural properties taken only from Sri Lanka,” he said.
As a result, the Minister said, Sri Lanka would make a proposal to the UNESCO this year to act in this regard.
“The UNESCO will have its general assembly in September. Sri Lanka, as a country, will make a proposal to prevail upon those countries to hand over these cultural items to the countries of their origin,” he said.
Sri Lanka also made a similar attempt in the past to get back such items. At that time, Mr. Dinesh Gunwardane was the National Heritage Minister. (Kelum Bandara)