Pasargad is a UNESCO recognized historical world heritage site. The Pasargad complex contains the mausoleum of Cyrus the Great, the founder and the ruler of the Persian Empire. The decree of the Cyrus’s Cylinder was issued by the Persian Emperor, which has been recognized by the United Nations as the first Human Rights Charter.
In August 2004, Pasargad complex and the adjacent historical sites were endangered due to construction of a nearby dam. In response, Ms. Shokooh Mirzadegi, writer, journalist, and cultural activist, supported by thousands of individuals from all over the world, initiated the creation of The Committee for Saving Pasargad. The Committee was successful in slowing the completion of the dam with the help of many supporters of the committee, thus saving many important sites. However, the Bolaghi Gorge and its adjacent plain was the site of ancient factories, palaces and houses, together with many artifacts were submerged and destroyed.
This experience created a profound awareness for the International society about other endangered ancient, historical or natural sites in Iran, some of which have been designated as the world heritage sites, endangered due to the intentional as well as routine negligence. It was on such premises that Ms. Mirzadegi decided to expand the activities of the committee and created a non-profit organization known as “The Pasargad Heritage Foundation“ as the first international non-governmental organization (NGO) to preserve the cultural and natural treasures of Iran. She ran this Foundation with her own funds and with the non-financial support of the interested parties from Iran and other parts of the world.
The daily destruction of sites and buildings continued, and was coupled with the systematic work of the Islamic regime to change the true history of pre-Islamic Iran by distorting the facts, as well as intensifying smuggling the ancient artifacts, turning them into a lucrative business for the government agents. The Iranian government also tried to silence NGOs, experts and archeologist.
Thus, all these recent trends that were based on negating the existing laws and neglecting the relationship of relevant organizations with peoples and NGOs, created an urgency for the expansion of activities against such atrocities, not only on the Iranian front but on an international scale, bringing together the help of non-Iranian NGOs, personalities and institutions and providing a venue where experiences gained could be exchanged, especially in countries inflicted by wars or dictatorial regimes. It was for such an expanded purpose that Ms. Mirzadegi has now also founded the “World Cultural Heritage Voices,” focusing on preservation of other world historical and heritage sites too. She hopes to be joined by other interested individuals and organizations to address this important issue that has been mostly neglected over the past decades.