Free Dina’s Art

Human Dignity and the Love Life of Wild Goats

It has been a month now,  since I received an acknowledgment from the Chairperson of the ICOM Ethics Committee, Bernice Murphy of Australia, concerning the Auschwitz Museum and Dina Babbitt’s Gypsy portraits.

The Auschwitz Museum has been designated a World Heritage Site. But does it deserve that status while it is in violation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

Is it possible for a  site to have its World Heritage Status revoked? Yes, it is.

This has already been done in Oman when the government unilaterally decided to reduce the area set aside for wild goats to breed.  UNESCO clearly respects an endangered species’ right to a robust sex life. I believe that Human Rights are of a degree of importance right up there with the love life of endangered goats. Frankly, I think human rights are even more important than wild goats’ rights.

I have brought this matter to the attention of the ICOM Ethics Committee once again, with the following letter:

Date: 25 March 2009 (11:43 pm/Canada)
From: Tim Thibeault
To: Chair, ICOM Ethics Committee (Bernice Murphy)
Re: Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Dear Ms Murphy,

I am writing to request any update you might be able to provide concerning the Auschwitz Museum’s refusal to comply with the articles of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights as they apply to the artworks of Auschwitz prisoner #61016, Dina Gottliebova-Babbitt, and the ICOM Ethics Committee’s opinions of, and possible responses to, that institutionalized intransigence.

While I am a little dismayed at having to press this issue so unrelentingly, I would offer Mrs Babbitt’s declining health and her ongoing battle with cancer as reasons to suggest that timeliness is of the utmost importance in dealing with this matter.

I think a reasonable person might agree that the return of these artworks to Mrs Babbitt’s heirs, or to her grave site,  would constitute one last and mighty victory for Dr Josef Mengele and his administrative successors at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp over Mrs Babbitt herself and her simple request that someone show some modicum of  respect for her Human Rights while she is still alive.

In such an event, Mrs Babbitt would have lived and died a powerless victim of Auschwitz’s Nazi Heritage and of all those who refused to act or speak out against its arbitrarily defined mandate. I believe this would constitute a pitiable miscarriage of justice, a sickening corruption of morality, and would fly in the face of any ethical goals proclaimed by ICOM and by UNESCO.

I further believe that it is now time to reconsider Auschwitz-Birkenau’s claim to World Heritage Site Status, at least until that Museum and the Government of Poland  respect the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

If UNESCO was willing to revoke the WHS Status of Oman’s Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (June 2008), it seems not at all improper to suggest that similar consequences might accrue to an organization in continuing hypocritical defiance of Human Rights.

Is there anyone at ICOM who would argue that the breeding rights of an endangered desert goat should be offered a greater and more forceful defense than the rights and dignity of an endangered human being who has suffered, for more than 35 years, the spiritually debilitating effects of self-serving institutional cruelty and societal disinterest? I truly hope not.

Sincerely yours,

Tim Thibeault


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