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Railroad Threatens Persepolis


17 October 2007




Edited by Shapour Suren-Pahlav


LONDON, (CAIS) -- The latest decision of the Islamic Republic Ministry of Roads and Transportation (IRMRT) on the construction of a new railroad which endangered the Achaemenid site of Naqsh-e Rostam now also poses a grave threat to Persepolis.


The cleric regime has recently announced that the railway route will pass through the Marvdasht Gorge located between Mount Hossein and Mount Rahmat. The magnificent ruins of Persepolis lie at the foot of Mt. Rahmat.


The tombs of several Achaemenid king of kings including those of Darius the Great, and Xerxes I have been carved into the solid rock of Mt. Hossein which is located in the region of Naqsh-e Rostam. The area is also home to a number of Sasanian bas-reliefs and other ancient sites.


The decision for the laying of the railroad contravenes an act was allegedly planned in 1978 by the Imperial Art and Culture Ministry and the Persepolis Foundation of Iran’s previous regime.


The act determined three grades of perimeter, each of different significance for the protection of Persepolis. According to the act, any intrusion or ownership is strictly forbidden within all three perimeters.  


The proposed railroad route, based on the Islamic regime's latest decision falls within the act’s first grade perimeter of Persepolis. Consequently, besides the Naqsh-e Rostam site, Persepolis, Naqsh-e Rajab, and Estakhr, a city inhabited during the Achaemenid and Sasanian dynasties as well as post-Sasanian era, will all now be endangered if the railway route becomes operational. All the sites are located in southern Iran’s Fars Province.


Experts believe that if the railway route were to become operational, train vibrations would eventually damage the monuments in the Naqsh-e Rostam region and also cause the destruction of Ka'aba of Zoroaster within less than ten years.


They have also stated that the vibrations are likely to broaden existing cracks in the tomb of Xerxes I and result in its collapse.



Intensification, not modification

The Islamic regime's new decision involves no significant modification that will ensure the safety of these ancient sites, contrary to their claim. The railway embankment had originally been constructed at a distance of about 350 meters from Naqsh-e Rostam in autumn 2006.


Subsequently, the CHTHO and the Parseh and Pasargadae Research Foundation protested against the project, suing the IRMRT for negligence regarding the ancient sites in the region.


The Marvdasht Justice Department found the IRMRT guilty of breaching the legal perimeter of Naqsh-e Rostam and the IRMRT was forced to modify the path of the railroad.


Subsequently the IRMRT announced that the railway route would be constructed at a distance of 550 meters from the site, but the modification didn’t meet with the satisfaction of the CHTHO which requested that the distance be increased to one kilometre.


In September 22, officials of the IRMRT came to an agreement with the CHTHO to modify the railway route and a team of experts was assigned to determine the fate of the site after a week-long study.


Unfortunately, however, the problem has only been intensified by the IRMRT’s most recent decision.


Pasargadae the resting place of Father of Iranian Nation, Cyrus the Great, and Persepolis, the ceremonial capital of the first Persian Empire are the most venerated sites for the Iranian nation. 


A newly wedded couple visiting the Persepolis who wished to remain anonymous for their safety said to CAIS: "Islam is our religion, not our identity. It is Iran and Iranianhood that we value the most, which constitute our identity. For instance, if we have to choose between Ka'aba [the holiest site for Muslims located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia] and Persepolis, without any hesitance we choose Persepolis. Persepolis along with the mausoleum of Cyrus [the Great] are our Ka'aba and the most sacred places for our nation."



Destruction, not construction

Pre-Islamic Iranian heritage has been suffering for the past 28 years. The detestation towards anything Iranian by the regime, has either endangered, damaged or even destroyed Iran's heritage landmarks. The Islamic regime's enmity towards Iranian peoples and Iranian culture, especially Cyrus the Great and Darius the Great is a prevalent knowledge. The regime's destructive force, has primarily focused on Achaemenid heritage sites, i.e, Pasargadae, Persepolis, Naqsh Rostam and Bistun, which most probably is the main reason behind these so-called construction projects in the region. This diabolical plot by Ayatollahs in Tehran has set in motion to destroy and erase all pre-Islamic Iranian heritage from the consciousness of the Iranian nation as part of their de-Iranianisation campaign to sever the Iranians from their Zoroastrian heritage.


After 1979 revolution in Iran, Ayatollah Sadeq Khalkhali, one of the most notorious clerics in Iran and leading members of the Islamic revolution as the head of Revolutionary Courts tried to bulldoze and level-down Persepolis, but the inhabitants of the close city Shiraz went on the barricade, and risked their lives by laying front of bulldozers and saved the ancient site from total destruction.




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