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Special Guards to Protect Iran's Cultural Heritage



Thursday, 14 June2001


TEHRAN Special guards are to be trained by the end of the current year (March 20) to protect and safeguard historical-cultural heritage of the country, an official at Iran Cultural Heritage Organization (ICHO) announced here Monday.

Rahmatollah Raqouf told IRNA that there is no contradiction between activities of the guards and those of the Law Enforcement Forces, adding that the special guards would be only responsible for the protection of historical-cultural sites within the country.

Raqouf, an advisor to the ICHO head, further remarked that according to the stipulations of the Third Five-Year Development Plan (2000-2005), the organization is responsible to form the "Cultural Heritage Guards" through coordination with the armed forces, the Interior Ministry and the Law Enforcement Forces.

He said so far 200 members of the Law Enforcement Forces who are cooperating with the ICHO for safeguarding museums and historical monuments have been replaced in the cultural heritage organizational structure.

Pointing to the potential risks that are threatening the country's rich historical and cultural heritage, Raqouf said in order to protect historical sites and prevent theft of cultural heritage as well as illegal excavations and smuggling of antique objects, 208 equipped bases should be set up throughout the country.

He said upon the approval of the necessary fund, museum, palaces and major historical establishments will be equipped with modern protective means within the next three years.

President Mohammad Khatami in a message on the occasion of the Cultural Heritage Week said the entire Iran is a big museum which reflects the ideas and initiatives of a great nation, adding that the identity of Iran today is fused with its own culture.

"Iran's cultural identity is the symbol of its distinction. For the continuation of the dialogue among civilizations we need to realize our roots and to do that we have to go back to the depths of our identity and jump from ignorance to wisdom," Khatami said.


Meanwhile, an official at ICHO announced that plans are underway to arrange exhibitions of Iranian historical and archaeological artifacts in Europe.

A selection of dishes, sculptures and other historical artifacts, will be displayed in expositions in various European capitals in two categories: Pre-Islamic and post-Islamic.

Some 180 pieces of dishes, sculptures, tablets, copies of holy Qoran and other ancient Iranian artifacts belonging to the period ranging from 7th millennium B.C. to 4th century A.H. will be displayed at Rome's Oriental Art Museum.

The project was initiated in Vienna last year at the threshold of the Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations (2001), and is currently being held in Rome, where an exhibition was inaugurated recently.

Due to growing enthusiasm of other European countries to hold such an event, the exhibition will be staged in Germany, Belgium, Sweden, and Spain after Rome.

In another development, ICHO Head Mohammad Beheshti said that a collection of 40 historical monuments would be ceded to the private sector this Iranian year (started March 21). He enlisted the historical sites as caravansaries, public bathrooms and residences.

He said that according to the plan which is to be performed within the framework of "Pardisan Project", the places would be leased or jointly run by the private sector as traditional tea houses and inns.

He put the total number of historical monuments and hills under the umbrella of the cultural heritage organization as one million and 200,000 respectively, adding that so far 3,700 collections have been registered as national heritage.

Beheshti said the third plan has focused special attention on Iran Cultural Heritage Organization because, he opined, through development of tourism cultural identity of the country would be preserved while foreign exchange income would be boosted as well.






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