PRESS RELEASE: Asian Americans Protest Met’s Looting of 10th Century Cambodian Statues – Urge Negotiations

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release
June 11, 2012

MEDIA CONTACT

Idelle Delapena: (858) 888-0983 / idelapena@naacoalition.org
Faith Bautista: (650) 892-8469 / fbautista@naacoalition.org

Asian Americans Protest Met’s Looting of 10th Century Cambodian Statues:
Urge Negotiations with Cambodian and Pan-Asian American Organizations in Coordination with Cambodian Government

San Bruno, CA – On Monday, June 11th, a leading Pan-Asian American advocacy group, the National Asian American Coalition, sent a formal letter to the Metropolitan Museum of Art urging early negotiations on the fate of “looted” Cambodian art, including the Kneeling Attendants.

The letter makes clear that the Cambodian government may not be strong enough to on its own confront the powerful Met, whose influence exceeds that of many members of the United Nations. The Met lists as its trustees a broad range of very distinguished and powerful Americans, including Mayor Bloomberg and New York City Comptroller Liu.

Based upon this disparity in negotiating power, the NAAC urges that the Met, consistent with its own mission statement of always meeting the “highest professional standards,” meet with a team of Asian Americans, including Cambodian Americans, as well as the Cambodian government to secure a resolution. The resolution will not be limited to just the Kneeling Attendants presently in dispute, but of all art secured by improper means during times of turmoil in Asia.

Besides a resolution of these issues, the NAAC urges that the Met’s Board of Trustees be expanded to include American representatives from major Asian nations since the Met professes to hold the largest collection of Asian art in the West. Except for Chinese Americans, it appears that no other Asian Americans are on its Board of Trustees.

Faith Bautista, the President/CEO of the National Asian American Coalition, who met on June 8th with Hillary Clinton on the South China Sea dispute, said, “The resolution of who owns ‘looted’ art should not be made by a powerful private club. This is an international issue that all Asian Americans will be joining to support their mother countries when confronted with issues of ‘looted’ art.”

“We urge the Met and its distinguished trustees, including Mayor Bloomberg, to immediately begin negotiations with Asian American groups supported by their mother country governments to resolve the issues quickly. It is our hope that well before the Met celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2020, it will set standards for all museums worldwide that it meets its highest professional standards and is consistent with America’s non-colonial future.”

Background

The NAAC is a Pan-Asian American organization with a Washington, D.C. advocacy office and is headquartered in California. It has recently been active in urging U.S. intervention in the South China Sea issue relating to Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia and in urging the suspension of sanctions against Myanmar. Domestically, it is a leader in small business and job creation, confronting foreclosures and promoting homeownership and responsible consumer products. During the week of June 4th, the NAAC was selected by the State Department to attend a luncheon with Hillary Clinton and President Aquino due to its advocacy on the South China Sea dispute and for its promotion of Asian American empowerment.

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