March 30, 2010

Inside Washington: NIAC’s Battle to Save the Persepolis Tablets

Washington, DC – The campaign to save the Persepolis Tablets is quietly gaining momentum, as NIAC and some of the nation’s top universities work to protect thousands of priceless cultural artifacts at risk of being seized by lawyers and auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Since 2006, NIAC has led the Iranian-American community’s efforts to protect the Persepolis Tablets, a unique collection that provides the world’s only first-hand window into daily life in Persepolis 2,500 years ago. We have fought on all fronts—in the media, the courts, the Congress, and even the White House—to protect these precious artifacts so that they remain available for everyone to enjoy and appreciate.
NIAC’s Legislative Strategy to Save the Persepolis Tablets

NIAC is focusing on the best approach to protect the Persepolis Tablets: permanently closing a loophole in U.S. law to permanently secure the Persepolis Tablets and all other priceless Persian artifacts in the United States. Successfully amending the law will ensure that no one’s culture or heritage will ever again come under attack in the courts.

To accomplish this, NIAC is working closely with many Members of Congress, especially those who represent museums with collections of Persian antiquities, such as Senator Roland Burris (D-IL). Senator Burris is the author of Persepolis Amendment, which would protect our heritage by clarifying that cultural artifacts cannot be seized to collect a judgment against a government.
NIAC has continued its campaign on Capitol Hill, holding key meetings and providing critical briefings to lay the groundwork to bring the Persepolis amendment to a vote, and ensure we emerge victorious.
Passing legislation is not as straightforward as it might seem. The most effective way to pass a small but significant piece of legislation, such as Burris’ Persepolis Amendment, is to attach it as an amendment to a larger piece of legislation, often called a “legislative vehicle.” Without a legislative vehicle, the Persepolis Amendment would have to be introduced as free standing legislation, which would be unlikely to receive a simple up or down vote. Congress, especially the Senate, has been bogged down by the health care debate and partisan battles, which has stalled even major pieces of legislation and led to a dearth of appropriate legislative vehicles.
Still, some measures – such as annual authorization bills – must be passed by Congress each year. These types of mandatory legislation provide the best legislative vehicles. Our strategy will be to pass the Persepolis Amendment as an amendment to an annual authorization act when Congress begins working on them in late spring. This is the best way to ensure the Persepolis amendment is signed into law and to permanently protect our heritage for future generations.

Join the Campaign

NIAC will continue its work to ensure we have educated Members of Congress between now and May. We will need our members to continue to get involved, and we will soon begin a reinvigorated grassroots campaign so that Senators know how important this issue is to their Iranian-American constituents. In order to protect the Persepolis Tablets, Iranian Americans must make their voices heard.
NIAC will be in touch with its members as this process moves forward, updating you on our progress and enlisting your voices when it is time to show the Senate the support for this measure that exists among the Iranian American community.
Soon, NIAC will also deploy the Persepolis Center, an online resource that will not only serve as a clearinghouse for background information about the Persepolis Tablets but will also provide a direct connection between NIAC and members with the latest updates on our efforts, new opportunities for members to mobilize, tools for contacting elected representatives, and profiles of endangered collections.
If we are successful in our efforts, the Iranian American community can take pride in protecting not only our own cultural artifacts, but all cultural artifacts from the threat of lawsuit in the U.S.




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