Friday, July 30, 2021

Satterfield Disappoints Representatives of Displaced Minority Populations

Lee Satterfield's confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee suggests that the Cultural Heritage Center is a minor part of the Assistant Secretary ECA’s portfolio.  It also confirms that the incoming Assistant Secretary likely will not change the "archaeology over all" status quo found at the Bureau.  CPO found her answer to Senator Markey’s question touching on minority rights to be nonresponsive, and understands that representatives of displaced minorities from the MENA region feel the same way. 

Senator Markey  1:11:12

Thank you, Mr Chairman Ms. Satterfield, your position at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs will allow you to establish import restrictions on cultural goods from foreign countries through the authorization of memorandums of understanding. Cultural property MOUs [use] have the power to impact the cultural heritage of ethnic and religious minority populations which the United States should aim to protect. If confirmed, will you urge the administration to appoint an advocate for religious and ethnic minorities as a public representative to the cultural property advisory committee to ensure that minority populations are properly represented?

 Lee Satterfield  1:11:57

Thank you Senator. ECA is very proud of the work of the Cultural Heritage Center to protect and preserve global heritage. It is critically important work, as you said. ECA can and should play a strong role particularly in cooperating with law enforcement to prevent the financing of transnational terrorism through looting and trafficking of antiquities. If I'm confirmed I look forward to working with Congress, other parts of the department, and private entities, particularly through the advisory committee to ensure a diversity of perspective when continuing the important work, as it was laid out originally by Congress.

 It’s particularly concerning that Satterfield evidently thinks throwing around the archaeological lobby's “terrorist financing” narrative (which RAND and others have largely debunked) can shut off any serious consideration of  the concerns of Greek and Jewish groups about how recent MOU’s recognize the rights of authoritarian MENA governments to the cultural heritage of displaced minorities. CPO thanks American Hellenic Institute for transcribing the event.  You can listen to the whole  confirmation hearing here. 

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