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Illegal Transit of Antiques in Bali

Bali Suspected of being Illegal Transit Point for Sale of Valuable Indonesian Artifacts.

(1/28/2005) As recently reported by the National News Service Antara, Bali is seen as a transit point for the illegal sale of Indonesian artifacts and antiquities to buyers around the world.

The head of the Bali & West Nusa Tenggara branch of the Center for the Conservation of Antiquities, Made Kusumajaya, expressed his suspicions that Bali serves as a transit point for the illegal sale of ancient cultural artifacts from regions such as Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and both West and East Nusa Tenggara. "These items," he said, "which are hundreds of years old and should rightfully be protected, are being sold abroad, via Bali."

Mr. Kusumajaya said he suspects that this illegal trade has been on going for many years.

Evidence of this illegal trade can be found in places such as Singapore, where certain galleries openly display Indonesian cultural artifacts, while the sale and purchase of such items is against Indonesian law.

Kusumajaya discounted the explanation that these Indonesian objects have come from the Netherlands, even though during the Dutch colonial period large numbers of cultural relics from across the archipelago were taken there. He added that the ancient artifacts that were taken to Holland in that era are generally now among museum collections, or supporting educational programs at Dutch universities.

Planned Sweep for Indonesian Cultural Artifacts in Bali

The Center for the Conservation of Antiquities, in cooperation with the Bali Police, are planning a sweeping operation targeting galleries in Bali, especially in and around the tourist areas such as Kuta, Sanur and Nusa Dua, suspected of being processing points for the illegal trade. Kusumajaya said that a program of regular raids for the illegal objects and those who trade in such items will soon begin in order to curb any further exportation of Indonesia's ancestral heritage.

In addition to the current crackdown, The Center will also issue guidance to gallery managers and owners encouraging them to take responsibility for the conservation of antiques with historical and cultural value. "We hope that with these kinds of conservation efforts, Indonesia's valuable and ancient cultural objects can be passed down to their rightful heirs in the coming generations," said Kusumajaya.