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Activists Go On Trial for Forcibly Removing African Art from European Museums

A Congolese activist and four others went on trial on Wednesday on theft charges for trying to remove a 19th-century African funeral pole from a Paris museum, as part of a protest campaign against colonial-era plundering. Emery Mwazulu Diyabanza has staged similar actions in museums in the Netherlands and the southern French city of Marseille in recent months, inspired by global protests against racial injustice and colonial-era wrongs unleashed by George Floyd’s death in the United States in May by the knee-on-neck hold of a white policeman. In the Paris case, Diyabanza and the other activists have been charged with attempted group theft of a historical object, and if convicted, they face up to 10 years in prison and a $175,460 fine, according to his lawyer. Diyabanza, 41, led the operation at the Quai Branly Museum last June, denouncing “the pillage of Africa”. “We’re taking it home,” he said in a video posted on social media after removing the funeral staff from Chad and parading it around the building. Arriving defiant in the court, Diyabanza said it was about time that Africans, Latin Americans and other colonised communities take back what was taken from their lands under colonialism