Mostazafan Foundation Urged to Relinquish Historical Sites

Activists have questioned the foundation’s motives, arguing that there was no reason for a change of ownership since ICHHTO was doing a fine job in maintaining the palace museums
Niavaran (L) and Sa’dabad palace museumsNiavaran (L) and Sa’dabad palace museums
Mostazafan Foundation is the biggest holding company in the Middle East

Hundreds of activists have demanded the Islamic Revolution Mostazafan Foundation give up its ownership of Niavaran and Sa’dabad palace museums.

The foundation won a court ruling last week that named it the rightful owner of the two popular sites, raising concerns among activists and Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, which had considered itself the owner of the sites.

In a letter to Mostazafan Foundation on Saturday, 420 architects and urban development experts, some of whom are government officials, urged the foundation’s top brass to relinquish ownership, ISNA reported.

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Council of the Islamic Revolution (which acted as the country’s legislative body up until the formation of the parliament) transferred the deeds of Niavaran and Sa’dabad to the Cultural Heritage Organization.

“Your efforts have removed two historically important sites that require protection from the care of the only organization whose purpose is safeguarding national heritage,” the letter reads.

The activists said the tremendous amount of time and energy spent by the foundation to claim the sites is curious, particularly when ICHHTO was doing a fine job protecting them.

“We cannot be optimistic about this development, as we don’t know why the foundation spent years fighting for Niavaran and Sa’dabad,” they wrote.

Among the signatories of the letter are Seyyed Mohammad Beheshti, director of the Research Institute for Cultural Heritage and Tourism, and Mohammad Hassan Talebian, deputy for cultural heritage at ICHHTO.

  Public Property

Talebian had criticized the ruling last week, saying it contradicted the country’s regulations.

“The foundation has the right to seize properties that belonged to the Pahlavi family,” he said, referring to the dynasty that ruled Iran before the revolution. “However, these two sites were owned by the Ministry of the Royal Court and they were built using public funds.”

The ministry was a government entity that acted as a mediator in issues related to the royal family, the parliament and government.

Few months before its dissolution in 1980, the Council of the Islamic Revolution named the Cultural Heritage Organization as the owner of the sites and all other properties of cultural value not owned by the royal family. The organization was tasked with safeguarding the properties and converting the sites into museums.

“We believe that even if the foundation had been named the owner of the sites from the beginning, the right course of action would pass them on to the organization whose sole purpose is to protect historical properties,” the activists wrote in the letter.

Established in 1979, Mostazafan Foundation is the second-largest commercial enterprise in Iran and the biggest holding company in the Middle East. It accounts for 1.5% of Iran’s gross domestic product.

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