UNESCO requested a report from Iran on the threat to Chogha Zanbil
Deputy Minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts, noting that UNESCO has requested a report on the threat to Choghaznabil, said: “We are awaiting confirmation of the relocation of the sugar factory in order to issue an official response to UNESCO.”
Mohammad Hassan Talebian confirmed that UNESCO had sent a letter to the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts regarding the construction of a sugar factory on the site of the Chogha Zanbil temple in Khuzestan, and said: “One of the global duties of UNESCO is inquiring about the status of those protected monuments or sites in member states, which are at risk”, according to IRNA.
“After receiving news about the first Iranian site on the UNESCO World Heritage List, this organization has asked the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts to send them a report on the latest protection status and measures taken”, Deputy Minister added.
“Following the order of the Governor of Khuzestan, the Ministry awaits finalization of relocation of the sugar factory from the limits of this world heritage site, in order to officially announce the status of the site to UNESCO, after elimination of the threat”, Talebian expressed.
Talebian also referred to the recent interview of Gholamreza Shariati, the governor of Khuzestan and said: “since the laws in the area of national, and international historical sites are binding, we expect the governor of Khuzestan to abide by the law in this particular case as soon as possible. Fortunately, in his recent interview, he emphasized that he had not approved construction in this area.”
If our ancient sites are removed from the world heritage site list, it will not be well reflected in the international societies
Talebian explained about the possibility of removing the ancient site from the list of the world heritage site: “the removal of the site from the list is possible if we do not observe the legal requirements of the laws of the area and privacy in any site in any part of the world”. He added: “Regarding Chogha Zanbil and other international sites in our country, being included in the list of endangered heritage or being completely removed from the World Heritage List will not be unexpected if the mentioned laws are not observed by the agencies and executive officials and
violation of the rules will damage the international image of the world heritage. Obviously, this issue will not be well reflected in national and international societies.”
With respect to the legal and executive action taken by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts, Talebian stated: “Considering the investigation and the importance of the issue and the preservation of the Chogha Zanbil World Heritage Site, which is extremely important at national and global levels the legal department of the Ministry is seriously pursuing this matter through the judiciary authorities. In the past few days, the Provincial Department of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts of Khuzestan province, has resubmitted its complaint to the judicial authorities of the Province for non-observance of the explicit law of privacy”.
Fortunately, the Attorney General has also ordered the observance of heritage privacy.”
Taliban considered the preservation of the historical, cultural, and natural integrity of the Chogha Zanbil heritage as an undeniable necessity, and insisted: “According to the law all organizations responsible for the protection of natural environment are required to maintain their integrity. This news first spread through the social media with the theme that building of a sugar factory has started from social media with the theme that the building of the sugar factory has started in the first-degree area of Chogha Zanabil.”
The most famous and the biggest surviving ziggurat from ancient times is the Chogha Zanbil. Ziggurats are among the most valuable temples and about 40 of them have remained. Chogha Zanbil is one of the most famous ziggurats in the world.
Chogha Zanbil Temple is located 40 km southeast of the ancient city of Susa, and 35 km west of the ancient city of Shushtar. In 1979, Chogha Zanbil became the first Iranian site to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and the international community considered it as a very unique site.
The news of the past few weeks, however, on social media, and the protests of some lovers of Khuzestan’s cultural heritage, indicate a danger to this global structure; according to cultural heritage lovers, the building of a sugar factory in the first-grade limits of Chogha Zanbil could cause irreparable damage to the reputation of Iran’s cultural heritage within UNESCO.
However, following the pursuit of activists, it was announced that the construction permit for the sugar factory in the first and second degree limits of Chogha Zanbil has been cancelled and construction, which would result in the exclusion of Chogha Zanbil from the UNESCO world heritage list, would not take place. Hekmat ul-lah Mousavi, Director of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts of Khuzestan province, said: “This investor has not been allowed to continue working. Ministry of Jihad-e-Agriculture has issued a license for One Square Kilometer for this factory, which was also cancelled. Chogha Zanbil is a world-historical monument that should be protected with the cooperation of lovers in this field.” (Baztab-e Khuzestan News Agency, November 2th, 2020.)
UNESCO world heritage sites are a collection of cultural or natural sites registered in UNESCO, selected as a list by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. Those sites registered as a World Heritage site are considered under the Convention for the Protection of the Cultural and Natural Heritage of the world to belong to all people on the earth, regardless of race, religion, or nationality, and governments are committed to preserving these site.