Hundreds of Greeks hold a candlelight vigil outside the Acropolis Museum asking for the return of the Parthenon marbles now housed in the British Museum, which refuses to give them back. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Hundreds of Greeks, including politicians of all stripes, gathered outside the Acropolis museum on Sunday (January 18) to hold a candlelight vigil asking Britain for the return of the Parthenon marbles. The marble statues from the facade of the Parthenon, considered among the greatest works of ancient Greek art, have been the subject of acrimonious dispute since they were taken from Ottoman-ruled Athens by the Earl of Elgin, bought by the British state and placed in London's British Museum in 1816. Greece has fought for generations to have the sculptures returned, recently hiring international lawyer Amal Clooney, newlywed wife of movie star George Clooney, to make its case. Ilias Psinakis, the mayor of Marathon, a seaside Athens suburb, said that the Parthenon was Greece's national monument, like the Big Ben or the Statue of Liberty, and so the marbles needed to be reunited. "We have (this) one way to ask gently, to give us back the pieces of our national monument. For example, in London, they have the Big Ben as a national monument, a trademark, the States has the Statue of Liberty, in Paris there's the Eiffel Tower. Here we have the Acropolis, and all the sculptures are in another place, so we need them back. We really need them back," said Psinakis during the peaceful protest. The issue of the marbles heated up further in December, when the British museum sent one of the sculptures - a headless, reclining nude sculpture of the river god Ilissos - to Russia's Hermitage Museum as part of an exhibition to mark the Hermitage's 250th anniversary. It was the first time any of the marbles had left Britain since arriving two centuries ago. The museum portrayed the loan as proof that Britain was keeping the marbles on behalf of all humanity, and a sign of how culture can rise above diplomatic division at a time when Anglo-Russian relations have frozen to post-Cold War lows over Ukraine. But former Athens mayor and former Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis said that it was a shame that no one can ever see the 2,500-year-old monument as a whole. "Because now it's just the half of the monument. So whoever comes around the world, either to Greece or to London, can only see half of it, and it's really a pity. And we know that the British people are with us, we know that the vast majority of the British people believe that the marbles should be back in Greece. We are waiting for them," said Bakoyannis. Greek officials said they did not plan to make aggressive moves to reclaim the statue while it was in Russia, such as demanding Moscow send it to Athens rather than back to London. They are seeking a settlement through the U.N. cultural body UNESCO.