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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 40, October 1, 2006, Article 21

WHERE NUMISMATICS AND POLITICS COLLIDE

Garry Saint writes: "There is another topic I would be interested
in hearing the opinions of your readers. A few weeks ago I received
a disturbing email from an individual who had visited two of my
website sections,  Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh. He then said the
following, "Garry, You have a great website but having on display
monetary units of the terrorist and separatist territorial entities
like Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh is actually a support of terrorism.
Your website has been mentioned by the separatists on numerous
occasions as a recognizable world authority (which is not
politically correct) and they use it to justify the fact of
their occupation...."

I have responded to this person and told him I will study his
request and make a decision about whether to change my site. I
also asked him to provide reference information so I can be better
informed about this situation. He has sent me a number of reference
links which I am reviewing. I have since determined that neither
entity is on the USA State Department Terrorist list. However, from
the links he provided I have learned that more than 500 civilians
were killed in the Abkhazia-Azerbaijan war by the people the writer
called terrorists. The fighting has now stopped but I gather it is
far from settled politically.

In an effort to dispel the notion that my site is any way official
I have added a disclaimer to each section in question and will also
add it to my "Fine Print" page as well. I also received this
wonderful suggested response from a collector-friend who is a
former USA diplomat:

"Thank you for your concerned email(s), which I have carefully
considered.  However, after considering the issues involved, I
have decided NOT to delete references on my Numismondo web site
of Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh for the following reasons:

My site is not politically motivated and has no political
ambitions or connections.

My site is dedicated to eventually listing EVERY banknote ever
issued in the world.  This includes countries, regions, political
entities, occupational issues, private entities and wishful
fantasy printings.  The issues you have mentioned from Abkhazia
and Nagorno-Karabakh may be fantasy or regional issues -- but
they exist -- and should be listed.

My site also lists similar banknotes from other countries.  In it,
you will find listed Confederate banknotes from what is now the
United States, Boer notes from South Africa, siege notes from
Khartoum, as well as more recent material, such as notes used in
Katanga, a breakaway province of Nigeria.

The site also carries the notes issued by the Khmer Rouge and
Viet Cong. Despite United States' embargoes on products from Iran
and Cuba, we list their banknotes.  Greece is not particularly
fond of the country to its north calling itself Macedonia, but
it issued banknotes under that name and we list them by that name.

Further, my site makes no pretence to being official.  The listing
or not listing of an issue is MY choice.  Listing in no way
confers official status on any content in my site.  I also reject
the idea that my listing of a banknote, official or fantasy,
supports terrorism or even encourages others to acquire these
banknotes.  They exist, therefore, they get listed.

If you want to submit one or two paragraphs of descriptive narration
regarding the Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh issues and their status,
I would be happy to consider appending your comments to the pages
listing them.  For me to do this, however, I would need factual
information, without emotional opinion."

I am still considering how to handle this and similar situations
and would welcome ideas from collectors or other interested parties."

[Mixing numismatic and politics invariably ends up in a mess,
which is why I prefer to keep politics out of The E-Sylum.  But
this is a good general question that repeatedly pops up in various
contexts, such as the French ban on the sale of any Nazi-related
items, the debate on the use of the Confederate flag, etc.  I know
subscriber Kavan Ratnatunga has had some similar concerns about
his inclusion of Tamil tiger coins on his Sri Lankan coinage web
site.  But I agree with Garry's diplomat friend - these items exist,
therefore they should be acknowledged, catalogued, collected,
displayed and allowed to be bought and sold like any other
historical artifact, albeit with a knowledge of the deserved
delicate sensibilities of groups of people who oppose what the
artifacts represent.  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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