About 100 Iranians protested in Tehran April 21 against a new Sivand dam, charging it threatens archaeological sites dating to the first Persian empire of 2,600 years ago. Protesters carried banners with Zoroastrian symbols and demanded the resignation of Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, head of the state culture and heritage organization. “Mashai, you are the bloodthirsty Genghis, you are Alexander,” they chanted, referring to Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great who both invaded and sacked Persia.
The student-led protest came two days after authorities started flooding the dam site after months of controversy. The dam lies 9 kilometers from Pasargadae, the first capital of the Persian empire where its founder Cyrus the Great was buried.
Critics say the dam will increase humidity and damage the remains of Pasargadae. They also protest it will submerge Bolaghi Gorge, an artery for the Persian empire’s most important roads ran. The fabled ruins of Persepolis, sacked by Alexander in 330 BCE, are in the same region but further away from the dam.
“The flooding of Sivand will definitely have a destroying effect on the historical remains and memories of this region,” said a statement issued by the protesters. (Reuters, April 21)