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International Day for Disaster Reduction

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nternational-dayOctober 13th celebrated the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR). This date has been designated by the UN Assembly to promote a global culture of disaster reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness.

The International Day for Disaster Reduction aims to demonstrate the different and varied ways that people and communities are working to reduce disaster risks and raise awareness about the importance of Disaster Risk Reduction. This day also serves to encourage all citizens and governments to actively participate in building societies and nations that are more resilient to disasters.

The theme chosen for this year was “Living with Disabilities and Disasters,” intending to draw attention to the importance of integrating the needs of people living with disabilities in decisions and policies for reducing the risks of disasters

Stolen Dutch Paintings Recovered

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paintingMore than a decade after thieves stole the Dutch Golden Age paintings from the Westfries Museum, the artworks have finally been returned to their home.  It has been more than a decade after they disappeared into what experts believe has been the illicit underground art market.  The art pieces belong to the Westfries Museum, located in the Dutch maritime town of Hoorn, and where they will be unveiled on October 7 again.

It was reported that in January 2005, thieves had hidden inside a coffin on display inside the museum before disabling the security system and taking off with 24 paintings and 70 pieces of silverware. It has been reported that the stolen pieces were the bulk of the museum’s 17th and 18th century collection, worth approximately 1.3 million euros ($1.45 million).  Since there were no solid leads, and no information about who the thieves were, it was feared for over a decade that the paintings would never be found. 

However, in July 2015, the museum’s director, Ad Geerdink, received word that someone from a Ukrainian militia force, a man named Borys Humeniuk, had made contact with the Dutch embassy in Kiev as reported by CNN.  It was then reported that the paintings were found far away in Ukraine, where the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists had claimed to have found the paintings, and said that they were willing to transfer them to the Dutch Museum. 

It is still not clear who the thieves were and/or how the 5 paintings had got to Ukraine from the small Dutch city.  What is for certain as reported here on WCHV website,  stolen artwork from around the world are sold in private and underground markets for years after they are stolen from their rightful owners. 

Mehregan, The festivity of love, light and fidelity

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By Shokooh Mirzadegi

mehrga2Mehrgan is one of the greatest and most ancient national festivities of Iranian people, observed on October 7, to denote the beginning of autumn. It is an occasion to celebrate love, light and fidelity and Iranians have observed it for thousands of years.

Unfortunately, by the advent of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, all secular and popular festivities were banned and they were not allowed to be observed in public places. Nevertheless, and as far as it is possible, Iranians celebrate the occasion, far more expanded than the pre-revolution times. Outside Iran, millions of Iranians observe it vastly with enthusiasm and perseverance.

In 2010, the Pasargad Heritage Foundation (PHF), an NGO registered in USA, working for preservation of tangible and intangible heritage of Iran, applied to UNESCO for the registration of Mehrgan as a festivity with its roots in the soil of human regards for nature and mankind’s happiness.

This was a symbolic gesture because UNESCO only accepts those applications in this regard that are made by the governments. Thus, PHF has done so with the hope that in the future the road for Mehregan registration by UNESCO is paved and the bureaucratic procedures are facilitated.  

Roman Coins Found in Japan’s Heritage Site

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coinsRecent discovery of Roman coins in Japan has baffled archaeologists as reported by several news outlets. The four Roman copper coins were retrieved from soil beneath Katsuren Castle on Okinawa Island. Even though the designs on the coins are difficult to decipher as they have been eroded over time, the x-ray analysis done later revealed several of the relics bore the image of Emperor Constantine I. It has also been reported that since excavation on the site began in 2013, researchers have also found six more coins which may date back to the Ottoman Empire in the late 17th century. The Roman coins appear to be much older, dating back to at least 400AD according to estimates.

The board of education in the Japanese city of Uruma announced the discovery, and said the story of how the coins came to arrive in Japan still remain a mystery. Katsuren Castle was known to have been the focal point of trading partnerships with China and other Asian countries, but ties to Europe were not evident until the recovery of the coins. The archeologists and experts are asking if there were more extensive trading relationships with Europe in that region or if the coins were brought there by merchants. The experts do not believe that there was any direct link between the Roman Empire and Katsuren Castle, but the discovery confirms how that region had trade relations with the rest of Asia.

The ruins of the castle were registered in 2000 on the UNESCO World Heritage list as part of the Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu.
The coins will be analyzed further and displayed at Uruma City museum on Okinawa until the end of November 2016.