July 6, 2006

US courts try to sell off looted Iranian artefacts

Posted at 8:04 pm in Similar cases

A while ago, I mentioned a somewhat complex case involving looted Iranian artefacts which had ended up in the United States. Rather than returning the pieces, they have become part of a deal to try & secure reparations from Iran for a terrorist attack in Jerusalem in 1997 in which American citizens were injured. I am still unclear about how stolen cultural property can just be sold off without contravening international treaties on the sale of such artefacts.
Iran has now spoken out against this proposed action by the US.

Far News Agency (Iran)

News numbre: 8504120353
14:38 | 2006-07-03
MP Condemns US Court Ruling on Iranian Ancient Tablets

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- An Iranian MP condemned a US federal court ruling that authorizes putting to auction of ancient clay tablets dating back to the Achaemenid era, saying that since the artifacts are part of Iran’s national assets the court decision is against international norms and regulations.

Eshrat Shayeq told FNA here on Monday that Americans violated the law when they took the said items out of Iran, “and now they intend to legalize their aggressive action under the mask of a court ruling.”

She said that the US has already embarked on similar measures against the cultural and historical heritages of other countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

The MP said her country expects international organizations, UNESCO in particular, to adhere to their duties in this regard and return the aforementioned antiquities to Iran.

Meantime, Iranian Prosecutor General Qorbanali Dorri Najafabadi on Sunday condemned a US federal court decision that authorizes putting to auction of ancient clay tablets dating back to the Achaemenid era, saying the decision is dreadful and against international norms and regulations.

The invaluable pieces are relics of the magnificent Persepolis, seat of the Achaemenid Empire of ancient Persia, and bearing inscriptions in cuneiform, were smuggled to the US and are to be put up for auction under the court decision in favor of the survivors of a 1997 bombing of Jerusalem.

The auction’s expected proceeds of US$423.5 million would be paid to Israel.

Najafabadi called on the country’s judicial branch to draw up measures to preserve the inalienable rights of the Iranian nation.

He said the auction of priceless national assets in order to satisfy the demand of the Zionist regime is regrettable.

“Disrespect of the cultural heritage of a nation inflicts spiritual damage on all individuals and citizens of that given country and should be investigated,” he said.

“The presence of artifacts from Iran’s cultural heritage which showcase the nation’s great civilization at the University of Chicago (where the relics are currently found) is itself a controversial issue particularly in light of circumstances pointing to the fact that the ancient artifacts were submitted to the university in trust,” he added.

He expressed regret that the priceless tablets would be put up for auction in favor of a regime that is notorious for its crimes and atrocities against Palestinians. These atrocities are increasing day by day.

He said the decision to auction the relics would add “another page to the dark dossier of Zionist terrorism in occupied Palestine, Gaza Strip and Syria” and noted that the decision comes at a time when the world’s attention is focused on the World Cup and the living victims of the campaign for democracy and fight against terrorism are forced to remain silent.

Najafabadi said the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its judicial system and prosecutor general’s office will seriously defend the inalienable rights of the Iranian nation with regard to this court ruling and will take measures to enforce its rights under UNESCO conventions and international law.

“We expect the international community, the United Nations and the Untied Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to fulfill its undertakings with regard to protecting the common heritage of mankind, the great Iranian nation in particular,” he said.

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