TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Vice President and Head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) Esfandyar Rahim Mashayee warned that if the United States initiates to auction Iranian ancient tablets, it will have to indemnify Iran for the losses incurred.
Speaking to FNA’s social desk here on Tuesday, the official reminded that purchase of the world nations’ cultural heritage is absurd and a waste of money, “because international conventions and treaties rule out any possibility for transfer of the ownership of the ancient artifacts and cultural heritages of the countries.”
“That is to say, if the relevant US court decides to auction Iran’s clay tablets, it has actually violated the international rules and the one who purchases such relics of the past has actually wasted his money, because the rule is recognized in the United States as well,” he continued.
Referring to a relevant court hearing, he said Iran’s lawyer is not attending the court session as a plaintiff or defendant, “rather he is going to the court to remind the judge that the ownership of the tablets is not liable to change or transference and to remind the court that the rule is also practiced in the US.”
He said the court hearing has been postponed due to the same fact, adding, “Our lawyer has postponed the hearing because the US court intended to identify us at the session as one of the parties to the case (either plaintiff or defendant), but our lawyer has rejected it owing to the aforementioned reason.”
Mashayee reminded that Chicago University has also announced that the US court lacks the credibility and authority to verify the case and stressed that Iran should not attend the court session as one of the involved parties because Iran is the owner of the clay tablets and no one can claim transfer of their right of ownership.
Museum of London has recently voiced its support for the return of a collection of clay tablets to Iran as the owner of the artifacts, an Iranian official said.
Secretary of the Popular Committee for the Repatriation of Iran’s Historical and Cultural Possessions Shahryar Aminian told FNA’s social desk that his committee has sent 80 e-mails to different world museums in order to garner their support for the return of the artifacts to its owner, Iran.
A US federal court ruling recently authorized putting to auction of ancient clay tablets dating back to the Achaemenid era.
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.
Aminian said that his committee is waiting for the response of other world museums, which are supposed to send their replies till late this week.
Following a US Federal court ruling for the confiscation of Iran’s ancient clay tablets entrusted to Chicago University in 1945, Tehran decided to file a lawsuit against the verdict.
Iran and Chicago University had agreed on the returning of thousands of tablets and tablet-parts to Iran three years following the date they had been entrusted to the university.
Many of the ancient artifacts have been sent back to Iran, including 179 tablets in 1948, more than 30 thousand tablet-parts in 1951 and 300 tablets in 2004, while there still remain around 1000 more tablets in Chicago University.
The items are considered as part of Iranians’ national assets, and Chicago University admits Iran’s ownership.
Earlier the head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) stressed that his country would resort to any legal means and actions to return the objects back home, saying that Tehran will hire a lawyer to file a lawsuit against the US federal court ruling.
Later, director of Iran’s National Museum Mohammad Reza Kargar stressed that the controversial clay tablets Iran had entrusted to Chicago University several decades ago will eventually return home.
Kargar told FNA that the case is now under legal procedures after some anti-Iran individuals strove to transfer the ownership right of the said tablets to their own benefit, arguing that they should receive the ownership right of the tablets as a compensation for the alleged losses Iran had inflicted on them.
“The court verdict which rules for the confiscation of the tablets in the interest of the claimant is viewed by the US State Secretary and US administration as principally baseless,” the official said, adding that the Islamic Republic government is currently pursuing the issue.
He also assured that the case will eventually end in favor of Iran and that the tablets will return home.
The National Museum Director also stated that two lawyers are now working on the case on behalf of the Iranian government and cultural heritage officials.
Meantime, Kargar pointed out that the chancellor of Chicago University is due to pay a visit to Iran in the near future.