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Employees and Reporters are Threatened in Turkey

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turkeyAccording to an article published in the German magazine, Speigle, after the calming down of demonstrations against the Gezi Park project in Istanbul and other cities in Turkey, the government has embarked on a revenge and retaliation program. One of the targets is Typhon Kahraman, a leader of Gezi park protests who is an employee of the Ministry of Culture and works in the Section for Preservation of Cultural heritage of the country. He was one of the leaders elected to act as the representative of the protest movement in a meeting with the prime minister of Turkey. He was recently sent to one of the branches of the ministry near the border of Syria, more than a thousand miles from Istanbul where he used to reside and work. He has also claimed that his life has been threatened by the supporters of the prime minister. There are many other employees of the cultural heritage section who have also faced this kind of retaliation, and are greatly threatened in Turkey.

Syria’s Sites Placed on World Heritage Endangered List

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800px-Ancient_Aleppo_from_CitadelAs of late last month (June 2013) six sites in Syria have been put on the “UNESCO’s world heritage endangered list”. The ongoing conflict and civil war in Syria has continued to take innocent lives as well as created major risks to Syria’s cultural heritage resulting on significant destruction and damage to many sites and cities.

The six new endangered sites include the Ancient City of Damascus; Site of Palmyra; Ancient City of Bosra; Ancient City of Aleppo; Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din; and Ancient Villages of northern Syria. 

Since the fighting began in 2011, many sites have been destroyed. In fact, WCHV and other online sites reported on the minaret of one of the Syria’s most famous mosques, the Great Mosque at the heart of the ancient city of Aleppo, which was completely destroyed. In addition, the city’s souk, which was considered to be the world’s most extensive covered market, suffered major damage during the fighting.

In a news release by the UNESCO in June 2013, the officials stated:  “The danger listing is intended to mobilize all possible support for the safeguarding of these properties, which are recognized by the international community as being of outstanding universal value for humanity as a whole”.  This decision was made as part of the Committee’s work in reviewing of the state of conservation of World Heritage sites already inscribed on the World Heritage List.

Renovated third tallest Buddha statue

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BuddhaThe third tallest Buddha statue in the North-Western Gansu province of China will be thrown open for public viewing, after two years of maintenance by archaeologists.

The giant statue is awaiting for final check and clearance from the cultural heritage inspectors before being open to public view.

The statue dates from the Tang Dynasty (618-907), is expected to be open to visitors in early August in the Bingling Temple Grottoes.

Restoration has taken approximately 2 years after damage over the centuries.  Repairs were made to the head, face, hands and clothes, as well as reinforcements to the base of the statue.

The Chinese government put the temple under historical protection in 1961 and have applied to UNESCO for World Heritage site status.

 

 

Suspicious Removal of Trees on a Major Road of Tehran

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vali e asr

According to the news released by human rights group (HERANA), Tehran municipality has cut down a vast number of old trees that were planted 70 years ago along the longest street in the Middle East. These trees had contributed to the beauty and attraction of this long and straight way connecting the mountainous north of the Iranian capital to the central rail station in the south.

The street and its trees were a creation of Reza Shah Pahlavi and were originally named after him. The Islamic Revolution of 1978 brought a host of new names to the Iranian avenues and streets and Pahlavi Street was renamed as Vali-e-Asr.
The motivation behind this devastating action is not yet clear but a theory suggests that the innocent trees were in the sight line of numerous cameras that the anti-riot police has planted all over the city, especially in crowded and busy locations such some parts this old roadway.

Bombs Dropped on Australia’s World Heritage Site

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reefUS fighter jets have dropped four unarmed bombs on the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the jewel in the environmental crown of America’s strongest ally in the Asia Pacific.

According to a statement released Saturday by the US 7th Fleet, cited by the Associated Press, the bombing by two AV-8B Harrier jets was part of a training exercise gone wrong. , the two jets were meant to drop the bombs on Queensland’s Townshend Island bombing range, but aborted the mission when hazards were reported in the area.

The jets, from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and launched from aircraft carrier USS Bonhomme Richard, were taking part in Talisman Saber 2013, according to the US Navy’s website.

A joint investigation by the US Navy and Marine Corps had been launched.

(2013). Retrieved July 22, 2013, from http://www.globalpost.com

Pollution Threatens the Persian Gulf

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persian gulf3

One of the most important parts of Iranian natural heritage and environmental treasures is the Persian Gulf.

The gulf is a source of essential nutrition for marine life . However, the number of these species are decreasing rapidly. The threat comes from unlawful and unregulated fishing.

According to the local people, unlicensed fishing boats that operate far from the control of the authorities are creating many new dangers for marine life.

It is necessary to note that the livelihood of the local people all along the Persian Gulf also depend on fishing and the poor economic conditions of the country has increased this dependency. But, it is obvious that the main threat comes from the pollution caused by oil and gas industry that dominates the coast. Using the sea water for refineries and then returning the polluted water and the industrial waste to the sea is yet another cause of serious threat to the environment and marine life in the Persian Gulf

 

Roman Mosaic in Turkey

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A University of Nebraska-Lincoln archaeological team has uncovered a massive Roman mosaic in southern Turkey – a meticulously crafted, 1,600-square-foot work of decorative handiwork built during the region’s imperial zenith

A team of archaeologists and students from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Atatürk University and local workers have uncovered a massive 1600-square-foot Roman mosaic in the ancient town of Antiochia ad Cragum near modern-day Guney on the southern coast of Turkey. The geometric black-and-white mosaic dates to the third or fourth century B.C. and is in excellent condition.

Its condition is particularly impressive given that it was first discovered in 2001 after a farmer turned up some ancient mosaic tiles (tesserae) while plowing the land. Purdue University classics professor Nick Rauh, director of an archaeological survey mosaicof the ancient standing architecture in the region, saw the tesserae when he walked through the plowed field. He alerted his team members and experts from the archeological museum in Alanya, 40 miles up the coast.

Although the find was certainly intriguing, located as it was adjacent to the standing remains of a Roman bath structure, the Alanya Museum did not have the funds to excavate further at that time. They returned two years later and revealed a small sliver of the mosaic, then stopped again.

Preserving Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage

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Ghazni_Province

On June 26th, 2013, at a United Nations supported conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, local and international officials gathered to emphasize the extensive past history of the city of Ghazni as reported by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). This conference is a reminder of the importance of protecting and preserving Afghanistan’s rich cultural history; a country that has experienced conflict and war for many years.

 The conference was organized by the Government of Afghanistan and supported by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was named “Ghazni Through the Course of History”.  Attendees also included the Italian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Luciano Pezzotti, who talked about the major significance of investing to preserve Afghanistan historical sites.  Italy provided funding to UNESCO to build a museum of Islamic arts in Ghazni.  Mr. Pezzoti told the conference that Italy will continue supporting the preservation of the country’s cultural and historical monuments.

Earlier this year in April 2013, a Morocco-based body of Islamic countries created in 1981 to coordinate efforts in the field of education, science and culture – had declared the city as the Asian Capital of Islamic Culture. The move was supported by UNESCO.

Ghazni is located in a province of the same name and about three hours by road from Kabul. Ghazni’s history is believed to date from 1500 BC, and was mentioned by Alexander the Great’s general Ptolemy in his later writing during the Hellenistic era. It was subsequently conquered by the Achaemenid King Cyrus II in the 6th century BC, and then incorporated into the Persian Empire stretching from present day Iran to India. Before the Islamic faith came to the region, sometime in the 9th century, Ghazni was also a center for the Buddhist religion.

The city is also home to a range of cultural and archeological artifacts, including fragments of Buddhist statues and a Hindu shrine from the pre-Islamic period. Key monuments include the Mausoleum of Abd al-Razzaq, the tomb of Mahmud Ghazanvi (a military commander and champion of arts who ruled Ghazni from 998 to 1030), the minarets (or victory towers) of Bahram Shah, built in the 12th century, and the palace of Mas’ud III and Ghazni citadel.

 

Critical condition of India’s forests

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India Forest

The recent data reported by the India’s ministry of environment and forests and a group of environmentalists, show that the extent of forest land being diverted across India on an average stands at 135 hectares (around 333 acres) per day. It is also reported that these diversions or land allocations are done for a number of reasons including allocations for coal mines, thermal power plants, industrial or river valley projects. Therefore, large areas of forest land are given to public and private agencies in the name of development projects. The states that are currently allocating major forest land to these new projects include Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Jharkhand as reported by Times of India. Another example is allocation of hundreds of hectares of Amrit Mahal kaval land, categorized as forest land according to Rule 33 of the Karnataka Forest Rules 1969, which have been allegedly diverted to Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Isro and DRDO, which are planning to build sensitive projects here.

It also has been reported that a number of legal cases are in the courts and before the National Green Tribunal. As also reported by Times of India, the ongoing and extensive diversion and allocation of 333 acres a day, to non-forest activity shows the country is sitting on an ecological time bomb. It is very alarming to see this type of deforestation rate and remind these communities that the depletion of these forest lands impacts the climate, biodiversity and water resources.

World Heritage Committee makes six additions to UNESCO List

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Zubara_Fort

On June 22nd, 2013, six more sites were added to the UNESCO’s heritage list.  These sites are located in different corners of the world and include two world first heritage sites for Qatar and Fiji. The sites as announced on the UNESCO.org are:

Fujisan, Sacred Place and Source of Artistic Inspiration (Japan): Fujisan was the center of training for ascetic Buddhism, which included Shinto elements.  Its representation in Japanese art goes back to the 11th century. University of Coimbra—Alta and Sofia (Portugal): Situated on a hill overlooking the city, the University of Coimbra with its colleges grew and evolved over more than seven centuries within the old town. Historic Center of Agadez (Niger): Agadez is known as the gateway to the desert and is located on the southern edge of the Sahara desert, developed in the 15th and 16th centuries when the Sultanate of Aïr was established  and Touareg tribes were sedentarized in the city. The historic center of the city was an important crossroads of the caravan trade. Al Zubarah Archaeological Site (Qatar): The walled coastal town of Al Zubarah in the Gulf flourished as a pearling and trading center in the late 18th century and early 19th centuries, before it was destroyed in 1811 and abandoned in the early 1900s. Excavation has only taken place over a small part of the site. Levuka Historical Port Town (Fiji): The town and its low line of buildings set among coconut and mango trees along the beach front was the first colonial capital of Fiji, ceded to the British in 1874. It developed from the early 19th century as a center of commercial activity by Americans and Europeans.  Red Bay Basque Whaling Station (Canada): Red Bay, established by Basque mariners in the 16th century at the north-eastern tip of Canada on the shore of the Strait of Belle Isle is an archaeological site that provides the earliest, most complete and best preserved testimony of the European whaling tradition.