'Massive slap in the face': Activists slam British Museum's ties to BP

'Massive slap in the face': Activists slam British Museum's ties to BP
Oil giant BP backed the war in Iraq and its exploits in the nation today are akin to "neocolonialism," a campaigner told RT after hundreds of protesters came out to denounce a BP-sponsored exhibit at a UK museum.

British Petroleum (BP) was "one of the biggest supporters of the Iraq War" as the company saw the conflict as an opportunity profit off the nation’s oil reserves, Yasmin Younis, a campaigner with the 'BP or Not BP?' group, told RT.

Over the weekend, around 350 activists staged a protest inside the British Museum in London, decrying its ties to the company.

BP sponsored an exhibit of artifacts from the ancient Assyrian Empire, which was located in present-day Iraq. In 2009, it became the first foreign oil company to return to the Middle Eastern country after its leader, Saddam Hussein, was toppled during the US-led invasion. It now runs one of the world’s largest oil fields there.

By teaming up with BP, the museum was "white-washing" the company’s role in the war in Iraq, the activists said. Internal documents from the Foreign Office, published several years after the conflict had started, revealed that the British oil giant was "desperate" to get into Iraq in the months leading up to the invasion. It was "anxious that political deals" in post-Saddam Iraq "should not deny them the opportunity" to explore the nation’s oil resources, a memo from 2002 stated.

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According to reports from the UK-based activist group the Platform, BP managed to renegotiate its deal with the Iraqi authorities in a way that would guarantee the company would be compensated in case of terrorist attacks or natural disasters stopping oil production.

"That is exactly a form of neocolonialism," Younis, who spoke at the Saturday’s protest, stressed, adding that the company exploits Iraq's heavy reliance on assistance from major corporations.

BP is obviously going to have these demands and requests in their contract because they know that they have the power to do so. It will essentially force the Iraqi government to comply with their demands because the government is desperate for money.

The protesters also came out to denounce BP's role in climate change and the fact that the British Museum exhibited items 'looted' from the Middle East during colonial rule.
Yasmin Younis regards the situation as "a massive slap to the face."

It felt as though purchasing a ticket and supporting the sponsorship would make me complicit in this form of neocolonialism.

RT reached out for comments to BP and the British Museum. The story will be updated once the responses are received.

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