Netherlands decides to return stolen colonial-era treasures to Sri Lanka on request

The Netherlands in a big move decided to give back to Sri Lanka the ownership of a very precious item from the past. A 275-year-old luxury cannon made of precious metals like gold, silver, bronze and rubies was returned to Sri Lanka. The colonial-era treasure is among the six items whose ownership were restored by Sri Lanka. Four other objects include two swords made up of silver and gold, two guns, and the last one is a knife. These objects were seized by the Dutch troops when the nation was colonized by them.

Since then, the stolen objects have been displayed in several places in Netherlands. However, they are being returned under a new policy that was created in 2021. The 2021 Dutch policy states to restore all the cultural objects that were taken from former colonies. Followed by which the Dutch deputy minister for culture, education and science Gunay Uslu signed over the ownership of the all the 5 items to Sri Lanka at a ceremony held at the cultural ministry in Colombo, as reported by news agency AFP reported.

The artifacts will be transferred to Colombo which will happen around the end of the year 2023. After the objects went around in part of Netherland, they eventually landed in Rijksmuseumn, where they are displayed right now. Sri Lanka’s national museum has granted permission to Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum to hold the artifacts until December when they will be transferred. This will the first batch of items which will be returned.

It is said that the Lewke’s Cannon was a gift given by Sri Lankan aristocrat Lewke Disava to the king of Kandy around the time 1745-46. It got in the hands of Dutch troops in 1765 when there was colonial rule. The other items were also stolen between 1658 to 1796. The move comes after suggestion of the government-appointed commission who were looking into illegal Dutch colonial acquisitions. This was done after Indonesia requested to return some art pieces as well as natural history collections. After which Sri Lanka also requested its stolen items to be returned.

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