Court Ruling Protects Persian Artifacts in Massachusetts
Washington, DC – A ruling by a Massachusetts District Court yesterday will protect ancient Persian artifacts housed at Harvard University and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts from being seized as part of an attempt collect damages against the Iranian government.
In his ruling, District Judge George O’Toole, determined that the antiquities housed at Harvard University and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts are not the property of the Iranian government and thus cannot be seized as part of a court case against that government.
While the decision was a victory for the university and museum community and Iranian Americans who do not want to see priceless cultural relics confiscated and auctioned off to the highest bidder, it does not apply to artifacts outside of Massachusetts.
Collections are also being targeted across the country in separate cases in Illinois, California, and Michigan. It will most likely be years before these cases are decided.
The National Iranian American Council has led efforts on behalf of the Iranian-American community to protect the Persian artifacts and supports amending the law to protect cultural property such as the Persepolis tablets.
“Today’s ruling will help protect Persian relics in Massachusetts, but elsewhere around the country the Persepolis Tablets remain threatened,” said NIAC President Trita Parsi. “The only way to ensure the Persepolis Tablets are protected is if Congress fixes the legal loophole that put these items in jeopardy in the first place.”
An amendment to close the legal loophole exists, but has not been passed by Congress. NIAC continues to press for the Persepolis amendment, which would protect all cultural items held by universities, museums and libraries, to be passed into law.
NIAC has also requested the White House’s intervention in order to protect the Persepolis tablets, and has submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the Iranian-American community to the court to ensure the Iranian-American community’s heritage is protected.