Al Kuwaitiah  

Monday, March 30, 2020

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Organized Crime, Military Linked to Theft of Cambodian Artifacts
 
Over the past 40 years Cambodia’s cultural heritage has been looted on a massive scale, with countless thousands of artifacts taken from hundreds of sites, smuggled out of the country and into museums and private collections around the world.
 
New research indicates that not only was much of this the work of organized networks, but that most pieces have disappeared from public view - probably forever.
 
Between the start of Cambodia’s civil war in 1970 and the eventual end of hostilities some 30 years later, the country’s 1,000-year-old temples and other historic sites were comprehensively plundered.
 
In one incident in the early 1970s, government soldiers used a military helicopter to airlift artifacts from the 12th century citadel of Banteay Chhmar in the northwest.
 
At the same complex in 1998 - generals spent a fortnight tearing down and carting away 30 tons of the building. Just one of the six military trucks that went to neighboring Thailand loaded with artifacts was stopped and its contents returned. The rest disappeared, likely sold on the black market.
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