In the absence of a protection unit and lack of a protection category for Iran's first work of world registration

Choghazanbil, a place of worship

In the absence of a protection and security unit for the first Iranian heritage monument registered in the world list, and the theft and destruction of the ancient bricks that have inscriptions on them, Choghazanbil temple is suffering from wounds on its body, that keep on bleeding.
Not long ago, while visiting the Choghazanbil ziggurat, I witnessed the destruction of parts of ancient bricks and stone inscriptions, left behind from the Elamite era (13th century BC), in this structure, and when following up this issue with the authorities, each time I was given justification and odd answers. The truth is that some days before my visit, parts of the ancient bricks and stone inscriptions left from ancient times, were stolen or destroyed.
Though this is not the first time biased people and smugglers have attacked Choghazanbil, but why are a protection unit (judicial appointed) and police force not stationed there? The only reason for that is the lack of security forces (judicial officers) and the lack of a protection unit for Iran’s first world-registered work in UNESCO.
When an area with 600 hectares of vulnerable structures and have three fences, and structures scattered all over, such as palaces, tombs, attached shrines, water mills, etc., is managed by security workers without uniforms, protective tools, and cars, and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and the General Administration Universal bases do not address the fundamental shortcomings of bases, can we expect better protection? No, it is impossible to protect this large area, which is far from the city limits, with two or three people.
The destruction of part of the bricks and stone inscriptions of Choghazanbil occurs while this area is the target of all kinds of threats. Sometimes the security guards stop working and leave work because of pending arrears and salaries. Sometimes, due to the greed of project managers who either aggressively take possession of the project and if their projects are not implemented due to discrepancies, they try to vent their anger in any way possible. And, it is a famous saying that when one foolish person throws a rock into a well, even a hundred men cannot bring it out.
I emphasize that the news of theft and destruction of the inscription done intentionally, to damage Choghanzanbil and not just theft, is correct.
It is imperative that the commander of the national security unit, followed by the Khuzestan commander, knowing the value and importance of Choghazanbil, agree with the police force by conducting the necessary follow-ups on the issue of assigning a security force outpost for this global heritage. From the other side, the cultural heritage department should identify and fill in all the gaps in the discussions regarding the fence and the boundary of Choghazanbil.
Why are the repeated follow-ups of cultural heritage lovers and media for establishing the security force outpost not being adhered to? In the absence of a checkpoint, why is the commander of the national cultural heritage protection unit and the Khuzestan provincial authorities not providing sufficient forces with the necessary equipment? Should Choghazanbil’s share from the protection unit be just one person?
Just be establishing the guard’s room in the eastern part of the site and their occasional patrol around Choghazanbil, will the thieves, diggers and smugglers be scared away? Of course, not! Because as a result of the absence of the guard and police station in the four corners of the ancient site of Untash, we witness the theft and damage to the stone inscriptions that happened in the past days in the Choghazanbil Zigurat, and the media nor the public got the news.
Why does Choghazanbil, as Iran’s first world heritage site, not have a protective fence after 44 years since its world registration? Doesn’t Choghazanbil deserve to have a wall like Takht-e Jamshid in Fars Province and Hegmataneh in Hamedan province? What is the reason behind such negligence and unkindness towards this vast and unique structure by the authorities?
Why should the cows, sheep and dogs that enter the triple fences of Choghazanbil from all four corners out-number the tourists?
Why are the representatives of the city of Shush and the governor and some capitalists and industry holders of this city, both in the past and present, constantly insist on building structures and projects which are un-simulant with the world heritage site? They are not making any efforts, now providing or demanding proper funds, to at least heal some of the pains of Choghanzanbil?
It is suggested to examine and repair the third fence of this ancient site to ensure the security of Choghazanbil, which will help to maintain the integrity of the building and solve the protection concerns.
Neglecting Choghazanbil means that the government, the representative of the city, and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage have left alone this “biggest child” of all our world heritage sites to fend for itself. Unfortunately, even a non-technical person knows that CCTV cameras of every site need support and care. Choghazanbil, being located in a vast plain, won’t the cameras in this area fail and go out of order by every strike of lightning?
By the answer of the Ministry of Cultural Heristage to the question regarding flow much budget has been allocated for Choghazanbil and its boundary, we understand how attentive they have been towards Choghanzanbil.
Why shouldn’t such a large heritage area not have a guard drone? If this is not inattention and mismanagement, then what else can it be called? By law, the cultural heritage department as an essential and functional position in the research, cultural, social, economic, political, and identity fields. Its role is not hidden from anyone. Based on this fundamental importance that is given to this subject, developed countries do their best to preserve, recognize and introduce their cultural heritage to the world. This is the reason why the land on which such sites are located are considered as national wealth and not private property. That is why some authorities here neglect such places and leave them to themselves because they cannot get anything out of it!
When Iran’s first internationally registered heritage has only one person in the protection unit, and the guards are looking after the structure without sufficient facilities, it is natural for these problems to arise, in the absence of protection and fences.
Unfortunately, some people seek to deny this news, while they know that it is true, and if I decide to talk, without a doubt, several people will be fired. So, it is better to refer to the reports of 1401 in this connection. But since some time ago, when the supervisors in the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage of Khuzestan realized this issue, how many people were added to the protection unit? None!
Why is not coordinated with the police force to deploy staff to the area? Why didn’t the commander of Khuzestan unit go to Choghazanbil when the news was out? Who is responsible for security? What can a simple worker with a low salary and no authority do?
The General Administration of Cultural Heritage of Khuzestan, which has become the sponsor of the bases, how much has it paid to the bases since the beginning of the year, and how much support has it provided?
Are the infrastructure facilities of Choghazanbil and other bases supported? Is there any provision for this critical subject and for improving security? What measures have they taken to improve safety, especially on these busy days? Has the legal affairs of the heritage department followed-up on the files or discussions?
A few days ago, when it rained a lot in Choghazanbil, how much did they spend on protection before and after the rain in the complex? Will they tell us how much has been allocated in 1402 for maintaining the Choghazanbil complex? Of course, the above questions pertain also to the Shush and Shushtar heritages bases.

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May 28, 2023