World Archaeological Congress calls on the website Etsy to take responsibility for stopping trafficking in human remains.
For immediate release 6 October 2010
The World Archaeological Congress calls upon the Etsy website to prohibit the sale of human crania offered by one of its members, “Lucyguy.” WAC is concerned about the cultural origin of the remains being offered for sale, as well as the affront to human dignity resulting from the sale of human body parts.
“WAC condemns trafficking in human remains, regardless of their antiquity or cultural origin,” stated WAC President Claire Smith. She added “The Etsy website must take responsibility and add ‘human remains’ to its list of prohibited material.”
WAC also requests that the proposed sales be investigated by US law enforcement to discover whether they fall under the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and/or applicable state laws. WAC recommends consultation with any potential related individuals, community, or American Indian tribe so that these remains can be treated in accordance with standards of human decency.
The World Archaeological Congress bases its objection to this sale on the WAC Code of Ethics, which includes the Vermillion Accord on Human Remains and the Tamaki Makau-rau Accord on the Display of Human Remains and Sacred Objects. The first principle of the Vermillion Accord declares “Respect for the mortal remains of the dead shall be accorded to all, irrespective of origin, race, religion, nationality, custom and tradition.”
Dr. Smith added “A website like Etsy that exists to promote the sales of handmade craft items has no reason to be encouraging immoral and potentially illegal behaviour.”
Claire Smith, President (Australia)
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The World Archaeological Congress is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization and is the only elected international body of practising archaeologists. WAC holds an international congress every four years to promote the exchange of the results of archaeological research; professional training and public education for disadvantaged nations, groups and communities; the empowerment and betterment of Indigenous groups and First Nations peoples; and the conservation of archaeological sites.