By Hamid Ahadi
August 8, 2010
The publication of a report in about plans by the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization to organize a sale of the country’s historical artifacts revealed another behind-the-scenes effort by Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, to engage in activities outside the supervision of the Majlis and the State Audit Organization.
In her piece in Hamshahri Mah, reporter Sahar Bayani was astonished to find that some were planning to put Iran’s historic artifacts on sale on the Kish island. What added to the astonishment was the confirmation of the report by Omolbanin Nemat Gorgani, head of the Cultural Heritage Organization’s division on museums and cultural artifacts. Having recently failed in its bid to bring under its control the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization – under pressure from high-ranking clerics – the Cultural Heritage Organization now plans to put on sale historic artifacts, which are held in extremely poor conditions in Iran.
This government official also announced a meeting with a representative from the Kish Free Zone Organization to work out the details of the plan. Like all other plans, the plan is said to have been proposed as a means of combating illegal smuggling in artifacts.
An archeologist, who wished to remain anonymous, told Hamshahri Mah, “This is the best time to organize such a sale, because the Archeological Research Center has suddenly and without prior plans been moved away from Tehran, and many archeologists and researchers at the center are considering retirement. No one is left now to protest the decision.”
This archeologist adds, “The Cultural Heritage Organization has recently posted many new and unscientific decisions to its performance chart. This organization not only has failed to support Iran’s cultural heritage, but is actually performing the opposite of its prescribed duties.”
Another archeologist, Dr. Hekmatollah Mollasalehi says, “This is an extremely dangerous plan. I think it is better to use the term catastrophe to describe it.”
This archeologist laments, “When an ineffective leadership, which has no understanding of Iran’s culture and heritage, takes charge of the organization, what do we except other than today’s irreversible catastrophes?”
According to experts, the Constitution makes illegal any sale any unauthorized excavation or purchase or sale of historic artifacts. There is no indication that lawmakers in the Majlis have passed a bill authorizing the government’s plan. The existing customs law forbids the transfer of such artifacts outside Iran.
Meanwhile, other questions remain unanswered: Why has the Kish Free Zone, which is inappropriate according to archeologists for housing historic artifacts, been selected as the venue of this sale? Would these artifacts not be damaged by the humid weather in Kish?
By Hamid Ahadi