Tehran Peace Museum
The Tehran Peace Museum, the first of its kind and unique in the Middle East, is located within Tehran City Park.
It's easy to imagine what awaits us in a war museum. But what comes to mind when we hear about a Peace Museum?
The Tehran Peace Museum (Muzeh-ye Solh-e Tehran), the first of its kind and unique in the Middle East, is located within Tehran City Park. After the central square of this park where stands the sculpture of a white dove in memory of the victims of chemical weapons, along the northern part of the central aisle, appears the museum building.
This young museum was created in 2005 at the initiative of the members of the association for assistance to the victims of chemical weapons. The latter were able to carry out their project in coordination with the international network of Peace Museums, following their visit to the Hiroshima Peace Museum, the world's first city victim of atomic weapons. The doors of the museum opened to the public in 2007.
Iran having been a victim of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), the founders of the museum decided to expose the effects and consequences of the war by focusing on a central theme: the use of chemical weapons. Interesting detail: the guides of this museum are themselves victims of these weapons; survivors of the war who live daily in the suffering of the physical and psychological sequels of these attacks. They are therefore well placed to witness the violence of the war and to call for peace. Presented at the beginning of the visit's itinerary, the messages of two current guides to former museum guides who have died from the complications of their aftermath present a testimony of touching and profound peace.
The guided tour begins with the "war room", at the four corners of which are erected the wax statues of those who are considered the greatest warmongers - real or symbolic - of history and enemies of peace. In chronological order, we find Cain, the son of Adam who, by killing his brother Abel, is considered by many religious traditions as the first assassin and the symbol of evil; Zahhak, mythical and despotic character of ancient Persia; Adolf Hitler; and finally Saddam Hussein, former president of the deposed Baathist regime of Iraq. On one of the walls, a screen continuously broadcasts a documentary on the Second World War. On the others, other screens display statistics on the deaths of civilians and soldiers in the wars of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The massacre of the civilian population in Darfur, Sudan in 2003, the Iraqis who died following the occupation of their territory by the United States and their allies in 2003, the genocide in Bosnia during the years 1991-1995 and in Rwanda during the The 1994 civil war and the bombing of Guernica in 1937 confirm that civilians were the main victims of these conflicts.
Coming out of this room, a showcase exposing many badges and paper cranes offered by international anti-war activists and personalities draws attention.
A manikin wearing a khaki outfit and a gas mask announces the entrance to the part of the museum devoted to chemical wars. Iran was the target of chemical bombing during the Iran-Iraq war, this part of the visit takes on a particular dimension. The explanations of the guide accompanied by bilingual screens (in Persian and English) project us to the heart of this theme. The birth of modern chemical warfare dates back to 1915, during the First World War. But the culmination of the use of chemical weapons was achieved during the eight years of the war imposed on Iranians by Iraq. The Iraqi army, by violating the 1925 Geneva protocol that prohibits the use of toxic gases in wars, has carried out more than 350 chemical attacks. The 2003 United Nations report revealed that Iraq had used 19,500 chemical bombs, 54,000 chemical shells and 27,000 short-range chemical missiles. Iraq has also admitted to using 1800 tons of mustard gas, 140 tons of Tabun gas and more than 600 tons of Sarin gas. The bitterest dimension of this catastrophe is that Iraqi troops have not only carried out chemical weapons bombings targeting not only Iranian soldiers in war zones, but also towns and the civilian population. The chemical bombings of the border town of Sardasht in western Iran, the two villages of Zardeh and Direh in Kermanshah, the Kurds of Halabja in northern Iraq, as well as hospitals filled with wounded and Medical executives are among Saddam Hussein's war crimes that have been perpetrated under the silence of international bodies. According to a museum guide, in Sardasht alone, one-third of the city's population was killed or wounded in these chemical attacks. We find the same tragic stories in Zardeh, Direh and Halabja. The images left by these disasters are poignant. Ahmad Nateghi, an Iranian photographer, recorded these terrible moments in Halabja. His camera is now kept in the museum.
The terrible effects of toxic substances on the environment and human beings are innumerable and enduring. Even today, the consequences of these chemical attacks are innumerable. More than 65,000 people still suffer from the effects of chemical attacks and heavy medical treatments. They suffer from cancers and chronic pulmonary, ocular, cutaneous or psychiatric diseases. Tablets, capsules, eye drops and inhalers that are symbolically collected in a showcase, are their daily lot. The wishes of the survivors of chemical weapons such as Chiman Saidpour, one of the thousands of victims, who lost her mother, her sister, her childhood, her dreams, her health ... under the chemical bombs whereas she was only one year, are "a world without war, without chemical weapons".
The painful consequences of chemical weapons attacks are not unique to the victims of the Iran-Iraq war. The dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the Americans and the use of the agent orange against the Vietnamese by the United States are also two other black spots in the history of humanity. These massacres still leave their terrible traces today on the environment and on the current generations. Museum officials also pay tribute to the victims of these events.
The museum tells the darkness of wars to expose the light of peace. To this end, he organizes various artistic exhibitions as well as workshops on peace. It thus addresses the concept of peace, humanitarian rights and the need for chemical and atomic disarmament. The library filled with works of international law and memories of war victims welcomes researchers and students. The museum also houses a studio to record and archive the stories of each of the war victims as a historical record.
A replica of Cyrus's cylinder, as what is currently considered the first Declaration of Human Rights and the symbol of Iran's peace and friendship, is also on display. The busts of four great Iranian poets Ferdowsi, Hafez, Rumi and Saadi are placed under the blue dome of the salon. The latter were, in their own way, apostles of peace whom they salute in their literary masterpieces. The famous verses of Saadi concerning kindness to others, in Persian and English, adorn the museum's enclosure.
Jean-Henri Dunant, Swiss businessman, founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross and winner of the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, as well as Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the independence of India famous for his The theory of "non-violence" are two global pacifist figures whose busts also adorn the museum.
The visit ends with this message that is both profound and hopeful:
"Peace is more than the absence of war. True peace comes from our hearts (inner peace) and leads to peace relations within the family, the community, and between nations. Inspire each other every day with non-violence. Let's be messengers of peace for every interaction. "
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