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Isfahan officials urged to protect magnificence of historical Naqsh-e Jahan Square

Tehran, Jan 22, IRNA -- Despite the 10-day deadline set by UNESCO to decrease height of Isfahan's Jahan-Nama Tower which is under construction at Naqsh-e Jahan Square, no measures have yet been taken to the effect.

In its former meeting in Paris, UNESCO warned Iran that if the process of construction within the precincts of Naqsh-e Jahan Square is not halted, it will be removed from the list of global historical heritage and will be placed on the list of cultural heritage sites threatened by destruction.

The project got underway as a cultural and commercial complex, djacent to the historical Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Chahar-Bagh and other ancient monuments in 1996.

The type of architecture, height and width of the tower under construction, marked by its sharp contrast to the ancient urban structure of Isfahan, prompted the UNESCO experts in their inspection of the site to express concern over the project.

However, cutting the tower's height -- initially planned to be 58 meters high -- by destroying its upper floors is quite complicated.

In its last session in Beijing in early summer 2004, UNESCO urged the Iranian cultural heritage officials to comply with the specified requirements by February 1, 2005.

Isfahan's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization declared that a judicial verdict is expected on the issue, despite the assurance of the city council members and Isfahan Municipality that they would not allow any foreign institution to make decisions about the city.

Head of Isfahan City Council Abbas Haji Rasouliha had earlier said that this is neither the concern of Isfahan Municipality nor that of the city council.

According to him, given that the construction license of the building was issued in 1996, the current municipality and city council are not authorized to decide about its destruction.

Iran's Human Rights Defenders Association had earlier filed a complaint against Jahan-Nama contractors with Isfahan Justice Department and the verdict on halting the project had been issued, which has not yet been carried out.

Spokesman of Iran's Human Rights Defenders Association Mohammad Dadkhah told IRNA that as the administrator of urban affairs Isfahan Municipality has to safeguard the city's status.

"Though Bench No. 38 of Isfahan Public Court has issued a verdict on halting the construction of Jahan-Nama tower and adjusting it, Isfahan Municipality has not fulfilled its legal task, but has taken measures against it," he added.

He noted that according to Rome diplomatic treaty, even the warring governments have no right to trespass the realm of historical and cultural heritage of other countries.

"Among the ancient monuments of post-Islamic era, Naqsh-e Jahan Square is the only one that has been registered by UNESCO as a global cultural heritage. This makes the responsibility of Isfahan's municipal officials more sensitive," concluded Dadkhah.

Deputy head of Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization for legal, international and Majlis affairs, Seyed Taha Hashemi, said that despite the rich historical background of Iran, only six ancient monuments have been registered by UNESCO as the global cultural heritage.

"This is while Brazil with a history less than 800 years old has already registered 29 ancient monuments in the UNESCO list of the global cultural heritage.

"Not only no effort has been made by the officials in charge of cultural affairs to register more of Iran's historical-cultural sites as the world heritage, but today a wrong decision may result in removal of the monument in question from the UNESCO list," he concluded.

... Payvand News - 1/22/05 ... --

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