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OPCW Awarded 2013 Nobel Peace Prize


The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) while some of its staff works in Syria trying to destroy the country’s stockpile of chemical weapons. OPCW is an intergovernmental watchdog formed in 1997 to enforce the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons.


In it’s announcement, The Nobel Committee stated that the work of the OPCW has defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law and that the recent events in Syria, where chemical weapons have again been put to use, have once again underlined the importance of the elimination of these weapons. 


OPCW which is based in Hague has been mostly an obscure organization has not been able to persuade all countries to become member states and sign the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Non-members of the OPCW include Israel and Myanmar, which have yet to ratify the convention, and Angola, Egypt, North Korea,South Sudan, which have “neither signed nor acceded” to the convention (www.opcw.org).  The CWC aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by States Parties. States Parties, in turn, must take the steps necessary to enforce that prohibition in respect of persons (natural or legal) within their jurisdiction.


In a statement by the OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu, talked about the decision by the Nobel Committee: “The decision by the Nobel Committee to bestow this year’s Peace Prize on the OPCW is a great honor for our Organization. We are a small organization which for over 16 years, and away from the glare of international publicity, has shouldered an onerous but Nobel task – to act as the guardian of the global ban on chemical weapons that took effect in 1997.


That year, a hundred-year effort was crowned with success as the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force. Our organization was tasked to verify the elimination of chemical weapons from the world and to encourage all nations to adhere to this hard-earned norm. We have since then worked with quiet determination to rid the world of these heinous weapons – weapons which have been used to horrific effect throughout the twentieth century, and, sadly, in our own time too.  We are conscious of the enormous trust that the international community has bestowed on us.  Working to realize the vision of a world free of chemical weapons, we rely on the expertise, professionalism and dedication of our staff – qualities that have been forged through a solid record of achievement.” (http://www.opcw.org/)

Launch of Emergency Red List of Syrian Antiquities at Risk



On Wednesday, September 25th, 2013, an event was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where UNESCO officials including Director-General Irina Bokova joined the President of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), Dr. Hans-Martin Hinz, and United States Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, Ms Anne Richard, to launch an Emergency Red List of Syrian Cultural Objects at Risk.

Since 2000, ICOM has published 12 Red Lists for cultural objects at risk from all over the world.  The ICOM Red Lists further facilitate the work of police, customs officials and all other professionals concerned with the protection of heritage objects by helping them identify the categories that are particularly vulnerable to illegal purchase, transaction and export. The Syrian Red List contains many objects from different periods of Syrian history including prehistory and ancient history, Islamic era and middle ages as well as Ottoman period.

After tower destroyed

After tower destroyed

Aleppo before destruction

Aleppo before destruction

Over the last two years, the world has witnessed loss of lives as well as the destruction of heritage sites in Syria caused by the ongoing conflict.


Remains of Ancient Civilizations Found In Brazil


 Brazil Brazil is busy preparing the country for the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, but last month another big news came out of Brazil. Finnish archeologists reported finding the remains of an ancient civilization in the Amazonian area of Brazil. The team has unearthed artifacts including new forms of ceramics and over 200 kg of pot fragments. In addition, many of the geometrical earth mounds found have geometrical patterns and are large in dimension measuring over hundred meters. These structures have been discovered in the Brazilian state of Acre.

     Professor Martti Pärssinen who leads the Danish team of archeologists points out that these large multiple structures perhaps required as much effort and energy for the native ancient civilization to build as the pyramids in Egypt. 

     You can watch a TV report on this story here.

Mehregan, An Avant-Garde Ancient Iranian Festival


     mehrga7We are one more time approaching another Mehregan, an annual Persian festivity that has been observed for centuries by Iranians. Despite all the barriers and difficulties in the way of observing this occasion, Iranians have never failed to celebrate this festival openly or sometimes even secretly.

     Mehregan, just like other festivities of Iranian culture, has its humane and popular roots. It was initiated as a ritual to worship the sun-god Mithra, but this day had gradually lost its religious origins to become a national day of celebration due to the valuable message that is embedded in it.

    Mehregan, just like other Iranian festivities, has been a day of honoring Light and Kindness, as well as Faithfulness to Promises.

     In ancient Iran, parents considered breaking the promises as unforgivable evil as lies and destruction. They believed that breaking promises can cause destruction of the land and society. It seems that such a belief has an implied connotation, referring to the rulers and decision makers who, by breaking their promises to the people, cause the desolation and destruction of their lands and peoples.

     In a verse in Zoroastrian book of Mehryasht, one can read: “The wicked one who breaks his promises will destroy the whole country”. That is why the message of Mehregan has been lasting and now is an updated one.  Like the previous years, the Committee to Save Pasargad, would like to ask all Iranians and especially the friends of Iranian culture to observe Mehregan in whatever way they deem feasible, aiming to preserve this precious festival and spread its true message.  We also need the help and support of all cultural activists in our campaign to register Mehregan on the World Spiritual Heritage list. The relevant application was filed with UNESCO in 2010 by the Committee.

With love and respect,

Pasargad Heritage Foundation

October 2013


Application for “International Day of Freedom of Belief and Religion”






H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, UN. Secretary General

United Nations

NY NY 10017


October 4, 2013


A Petition for UN’s Proclamation of October 29th as the “International Day of Freedom of Conscience and Religion”

Your Excellency:

     We, the undersigned, have been authorized by World Cultural Heritage Voices to respectfully urge your Excellency to call on the appropriate organization of the United Nations to designate 29 of October as “International Day of Freedom of Conscience and Religion.” The World Cultural Heritage Voices is an organization dedicated to the preservation of the cultural heritage of each member of the international community, particularly those that have been ravaged by scourges of wars, sectarian violence, poverty and unrepresentative governments.

     In the last few decades the world has witnessed widespread eruptions of violent ideological and sectarian conflicts within a number of societies.  Such conflicts have, among other things, led to the rise of organized attempts to desecrate or otherwise destroy national, cultural and religious heritage of particular historical value to the community of nations. Such attempts often take place in societies where respect for individual’s freedom of conscience and religion has not yet been fully recognized as an essential principle of human rights.


Your Excellency:          

     It is upon these premises that we believe the designation of a day for celebrating the freedom of conscience and religion on the UN calendar will further signify the importance of respect for cultural and religious diversity which is the cornerstone of peaceful coexistence of peoples all over the world.

     We further believe that 29 of October is an appropriate date for celebration of this freedom, for it was on this date that Cyrus the Great issued his historic decree on religious freedom and tolerance more than 2500 years ago. More importantly, Cyrus followed his decree on tolerance, diversity of cultures and freedom of worship by deeds that included delivering the enslaved Jews in Babylon. This decree has therefore been considered by many as the earliest expression of the recognition of a fundamental human freedom. The permanent exhibition of the decree at the entrance to the chamber of the Security Council of UN bespeaks of the universal recognition of its importance.

     This year, the twenty-ninth day of October 2013, coincides with the ninth annual celebration of “Cyrus the Great Day” by Iranian people and many friends of culture across the globe. In 2005, it was the Pasargad Heritage Foundation- the first international NGO for preservation of the cultural heritage of Iran- that introduced the idea. At the time, Cyrus’ mausoleum in Iran- a monument registered on the UNESCO’s world heritage list – was in danger of being inundated and eventually destroyed. However, the hard work of this Foundation and timely intervention of UNESCO, human rights activists and organizations removed the danger and led to a world-wide recognition of Cyrus’ seminal contribution to the survival of our common human civilization. Such recognition has been further evidenced by the exhibition of Cyrus cylinder in a number of museums in major cities in United States of America. 


Your Excellency:

   At a time when, in a number of regions of the world, particularly in Africa and Asia, the basic rights and freedoms of millions of individuals have been curtailed, disregarded and violently denied by undemocratic and illegitimate governments, setting aside a day of celebration for freedoms of conscience and religion by the Parliament of Mankind will be of great and lasting importance.  Such a measure would also constitute another vivid warning to political leaders of countries whose prisons are filled with prisoners of religion, conscience and belief.

     Nevertheless, millions of people are still afraid of freely announcing their beliefs. Without any doubt, creating a special day for Freedom of Conscience and Religion would help the advancement of human rights.

     Fully cognizant of your Excellency’s abiding respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of all peoples of the world, we are looking forward to receiving a favorable response to our plea. 

Respectfully Yours,
Shokooh Mirzadegi
Founder and Executive Director
Farid Hekmat
Legal Counsel


Please sign this petition



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ترجمه در خواست از سازمان ملل،

برای اعلام روز 29 اکتبر، به عنوان «روز بین المللی آزادی عقیده و مذهب»


 عالیجناب آقای بان کی مون

سازمان ملل

چهارم اکتبر 2013

درخواست از سازمان ملل، برای اعلام روز 29 اکتبر، به عنوان روز بین المللی آزادی عقیده و مذهب



ما امضا کنندگان این نامه، از جانب «صدای میراث فرهنگی جهانی» ماموریت داریم تا با احترام از آن عالیجناب مجدانه بخواهیم که از بخش مربوطه سازمان ملل بخواهند تا روز 29 اکتبر را به عنوان روز بین المللی آزادی عقیده و مذهب اعلام کنند. صدای میراث فرهنگی جهانی سازمانی است اختصاص یافته به حفظ میراث فرهنگی کلیه اعضای جامعه جهانی، به خصوص آن ها که به وسیله ی لطمه های حاصل از جنگ، خشونت های فرقه ای، فقر، و دولت های غیر انتخابی لطمه دیده اند.

در دهه های اخیر جهان شاهد طغیان گسترنده ی برخوردهای خشونت بار ایدئولوژیک و فرقه ای در میان اجتماعات مختلف بوده است. این برخوردها قبل از هر چیز منجر به پیدایش فعالیت های سازمان یافته در راستای تخریب و یا از میان بردن میراث های فرهنگی و مذهبی دارای ارزش های ويژه تاریخی برای جامعه ملل شده است. این رفتارها اغلب در جوامعی اتفاق می افتند که احترام به آزادی شخصی عقیده و مذهب هنوز به عنوان اصل گوهرین حقوق بشر کاملا به رسمیت شناخته نشده است.



 بر بنیاد این واقعیت هاست که ما باور داریم که تعیین روزی برای گرامیداشت آزادی عقیده و مذهب در تقویم سازمان ملل به اعتلای اهمیت احترام گذاری به گوناگونی فرهنگی و مذهبی که سنگ بنای همزیستی صلح آمیز مردمان سراسر جهان است کمک می کند.


ما همچنین باور داریم که روز 29 اکتبر روز مناسبی برای گرامیداشت این آزادی است چرا که در این روز بود که کورش بزرگ فرمان تاریخی خود را در 2500 سال پیش پیرامون آزادی مذهب و رواداری صادر کرد. مهم تر از آن این که او در پی صدور فرمان رواداری و پذیرش گوناگونی فرهنگ ها و آزادی نیایش، این نظر را با عمل خود به صورت آزادسازی یهودیان به بردگی گرفته شده در بابل تعقیب کرد. به همین دلیل است که این فرمان از جانب بسیارانی نخستین بیان پذیرش یک آزادی اصلی بشری تلقی شده است. به نمایش گذاشتن دایمی این فرمان در ورودیه تالار شورای امنیت سازمان ملل خود گویای شناخت جهانی اهمیت آن است.


امسال بیست و نهمین روز اکتبر 2013 با نهمین گرامیداشت سالیانه ی روز کورش بزرگ از جانب ایرانیان و مردمانی از فرهنگ های مختلف سراسر جهان است. در سال 2005 بنیاد میراث پاسارگاد که نخستین سازمان غیر انتفاعی بین المللی برای حفظ میراث فرهنگی ایران شناخته می شود فکر نام گذاری روز کورش را مطرح ساخت در آنزمان آرامگاه کورش در ایران که بنایی ثبت شده در فهرست میراث جهانی یونسکو است در خطر آب گرفتگی ویرانی ناشی از آن بود اما تلاش شدید این سازمان و دخالت به هنگام یونسکو، کنشگران و سازمان های حقوق بشری، از این خطر جلوگیری کرد و موجب آگاهی جهانی نسبت به دهش آغازین کورش در بقای تمدن مشترک انسان ها شد. شاهد چنین آگاهی گسترده ای برگزاری نمایش استوانه ی کورش در تعدادی از موزه های شهرهای بزرگ ایالات متحده آمریکا است.


 در زمانه ای که در مناطق مختلف دنیا و به خصوص در آفریقا و آسیا حقوق بنیادین و آزادی های میلیون ها انسان از آن ها دریغ شده، و مورد بی اعتنایی و انکار خشونت آمیز دولت های غیر دموکراتیک و نامشروع قرار گرفته است، گزینش روزی برای گرامیداشت عقیده و مذهب به وسیله ی پارلمان نسل بشر واجد اهمیتی عظیم و ماندگار است. این اقدام اخطاری آشکار به رهبران سیاسی کشورهایی است که زندان هاشان پر از زندانیان عقیده و مذهب و باورند.

با این وجود میلیون ها انسان هنوز از بیان آزادانه عقاید خود می هراسند و بدون شک گزینش روزی برای آزادی عقیده و مذهب موجب پیشرفت حقوق بشری خواهد شد.

با آگاهی کامل از احترامی که آن عالیجناب برای حقوق و آزادی های بنیادین همه ی مردم جهان قایل اند ما چشم انتظار دریافت پاسخ مثبتی به تقاضای خود هستیم.

با احترامات

شکوه میرزادگی

موسس و مسئول امور اجرایی  سازمان «صدای میراث فرهنگی جهانی»

فرید حکمت

وکیل سازمان «صدای میراث فرهنگی جهانی»


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Skulls Found in London Crossrail : Helping Archeologists Learn More



It is not the first time that ancient remains are found while modern cities are being developed and expanded.  The latest news is that archaeologists working with London’s Crossrail project have uncovered 20 skulls believed to be from the Roman period.

The archeologists believe the bones were washed from a nearby burial site along one of London’s “lost” rivers.  In the last year archaeologists in London have also found about 10,000 Roman items at a nearby site. Could the latest finds give new insights into the lives of Roman people? One thing is for sure that the archaeologists believe that the Crossrail Project which currently operates over 40 worksites and archaeological investigations will lead to further discoveries hidden beneath the streets of London and say it could transform our understanding of Roman London.

The Walbrook river which was paved over in the 15th Century, divided the western and eastern parts of the city, its moist muddy walls providing exceptionally good conditions for artifacts to be preserved. The discoveries were found about 3 meters below ground and underneath the Bedlam cemetery, a burial ground where hundreds of skeletons have been unearthed. Roman law required burial outside the city, which meant there were burial sites circled around the town and the skulls were probably buried in different environments, shown by their shades of brown and grey as reported by BBC.

Even though forensic studies are still needed to be done, the scientists and archeologists say that more information about the sex and age will emerge through further investigations. For example chemical markers on the teeth could reveal where these people came from and what sorts of food they ate making it easier for students of archeology to learn more about life in that period and location.


Persian Artifact Returned to Iran




As reported by CNN, and announced by the US State Department a 2,700 year-old Persian artifact has been returned to Iran.  In a tweet the US State Department announced the return of a silver chalice, the ancient Persian artifact to its homeland. The ceremonial drinking vessel or rhyton was confiscated in a U.S. customs warehouse many years ago. The chalice had been in New York since 2003, when an art dealer smuggled it into the country from Iran.  Customs officials have long wanted to return the rhyton to Iran, according to a New York Post report. But decades of bad diplomatic relations between Tehran and Washington made it impossible.


The decision to return the artifact came after President Obama called the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, as he was on his way to the airport in NYC and returning to Iran after the UN meetings.  The rhyton, which takes the shape of a mythical beast with the body of a lion and the head of a bird of prey, was fashioned in the Achaemenid era, the early Persian Empire, around 700 BC. The U.S. officials handed it off directly to the Iranian delegation, who BBC reports have already met with officials from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art about potential exhibitions of Iranian artifacts.  It is still not clear if Iran will ever put more restrictive measures in place in order to stop the smuggling of Persian artifacts out of Iran.