Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
& CULTURAL NEWS OF IRANIAN WORLD©
Calls by Iran for Return of Stolen Jiroft Artefacts from a London
14 June 2006
(CAIS) -- Board members of Barakat Gallery in London
who had purchased stolen Jiroft’s artefacts rejected Iran’s £150,000
proposal as a compensation for the expenses of keeping these relics which were
looted from Jiroft in return for the artifacts currently in the possession of
the Gallery. Therefore, Iran has once again taken the case to British court for
a legal decision.
It was the second time that Iran sued the Barakat Gallery. Last time, once
Iranian cultural heritage authorities found out that Jiroft’s stolen relics
were being auctioned by this gallery, they immediately took action and asked the
British authority to stop the selling of these invaluable relics. The court
ordered the gallery to stop selling them and asked it to come to an agreement
with Iran about them. However, although the gallery took these artifacts out of
its auction, it has refused to return them back to Iran despite Iran’s
proposal to give £150,000 as compensation.
“After the initial studies, London’s Court asked both parties to reach to a
mutual agreement and find a solution to this problem,” said Omid Ghanami,
executive director of the judicial department of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and
Tourism Organization (ICHTO).
According to Omid Ghanami, the present owners of these relics have suggested to
pay for Jiroft’s artifacts in order to keep and later sell them in their
gallery, it is by no means reasonable that Iran sell its historical heritage,
whatever the price may be.
“Based on international conventions, the present owners may receive the
expenses for keeping these objects for the time they were in their possession.
Therefore, ICHTO has suggested paying some 100-150 thousand pounds for these
years which has not been accepted by the owners; therefore, the case was retaken
to the London’s Court. However, we are not sure how long the process will
take,” added Ghanami.
Prior to this, Iran had three different files in London courts related to the
smuggling of Jiroft’s historical relics across the borders; however, following
the efforts made by ICHTO, the two other courts issued their votes in favor of
Iran and the objects were returned to their home country last March. So the only
file still open is the one about selling of these relics in the Barakat Gallery.
The case was first taken to the court by Iran with the help of the International
Law Department of Paris. Iran and France worked closely to prepare a file and
submit it to London’s court to prove Iran’s claim for the ownership of these
relics. These ancient artifacts had been plundered from Halil Rud historical
site near the city of Jiroft in the Iranian province of Kerman. The smugglers
then illegally crossed the borders of the country with these valuable objects,
considered part of the Iranian heritage, and sold them abroad. The Barakat
Gallery collected a large number of them and put them on auction.
Halil Rud historical site was one of the first places where civilization and
urbanization were established. A large number of stone, clay, and architectural
remains from the third millennium BCE were discovered during archaeological
excavations in the site. However, after such a rich civilization was discovered
in Halil Rud region, lack of appropriate protection and management in this
historical site and lack of public knowledge about how to preserve their
cultural heritage, and the smugglers who took advantage of this situation and
sold a large amount of these historical relics illegally all led to such a
dilemma we are facing today.
Even after these objects were taken out of Iran, plundering of the site did not
stop. A few months ago, Iran’s police department succeeded in seizing more
than 2000 historical relics and arrested a large number of antique smugglers
before they had the chance to leave the country.
Illegal excavations of the smugglers in this historical site resulted in the
loss of some invaluable evidence since it is evident that they would not take
precautious measures in taking out these objects and thus would harm the
surrounding land and anything buried within the area. These historical treasures
were then sold to museums and private collections outside the country. Now the
current owners of these historical relics deny Iran’s right over these
historical relics and refuse to redeem them. Therefore, Iran’s government has
to work hard on the case to return these historical relics back to the country
and ask an international court to be set up to identify these relics and prove
that they belong to this land.
is the Light on the Path to Future"
British Institute of Persian Studies