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Honoring Cyrus the Great and His Charter

October 29, 2008
by Amil Imani

Once again October 29th is rolling around. And once again, free people all over the world celebrate the memory of Cyrus the Great, the author of mankind's arguably greatest document, the first Charter of Human Rights. This benevolent king, ruling over a vast empire of diverse people, enshrined in the Cyrus Cylinder, nearly three millennia ago, the principles that define and protect human dignity.
It has been well over four years since the International Committee to Save the Archeological Sites of Pasargad initiated a massive celebration for the International Day of Cyrus the Great all over the world. For the past four years, especially, the courageous Iranian people have gathered by the tomb of Cyrus the Great, to commemorate this momentous international event, despite numerous intimidation and harassment by the agents of the Islamic Republic.

Cyrus the Great's recognition of human rights, irrespective of any and all considerations, was instrumental in advancing the social and cultural precepts of the diverse people throughout the vast expanse of his empire. Although ethnically Persian, the benevolent king considered himself a trustee of the diverse nationalities of his kingdom. Parochialism and ethnocentrism were alien to this visionary monarch.  

In the same way that Cyrus the Great considered all people members of the same human family, the human family of today holds the great trailblazer of human rights as one of its own. The vast plateau that is the presently encompasses Iran has been inhabited by the most diverse people of any region of the planet. Yet, in adherence to the lofty principles of Cyrus, these people found unity in diversity. They remained loyal to their own unique heritage and successfully linked it to a larger loyalty. The present Iran is a living testimony to this remarkable togetherness where ethnic Persians, Turkic, Kurds, Lurs, Turkmen, Baluchis, Arabs, and others live as one people.

Cyrus' Charter of Human Rights is the first written document which stipulates that all humans have universal inalienable rights, without regard to any and all demographic considerations such as ethnicity, nationality and religion.

The great king practiced what he believed. He, for example, helped rebuild the temple of Solomon which had been destroyed by the Babylonian kings and freed some 40,000 or more Jews who had been imprisoned and kept as slaves by the Babylonians, empowering the Jewish people to return to their homeland.

By his act of freeing an entire people from captivity and restoring their rightful dignity, Cyrus the Great forged a bond of friendship between the Jews and the Persians. In recognition of this just king's action, he is immortalized in the Bible as "the anointed of the Lord."

While free people of the world recognize and honor this outstanding historical figure, the Islamist usurpers presently ruling Cyrus's homeland have been busily doing their best to erase any and all traces of his luminous heritage. For one, under the guise of rural development, the Islamic Republic of Iran is flooding the plain that houses Cyrus's stone tomb. The IRI is contemptuous of anything it deems non-Islamic and has embarked on destroying the archeological sites of Pasargad and Persepolis and the Tomb of Cyrus the Great. -- examples of humanity's most prized cultural heritage.

The Mullahs' actions are part of a systematic campaign of destroying the universal inclusive Persian vision and promoting the barbaric exclusionary Islamist myopia. To these turbaned criminals and their functionaries, any non-Islamic, including people such as Jews, Baha'is, or unbelievers of any kind have no right to exist at all. It is in this vicious intolerant spirit that the IRI's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has placed the destruction of Israel at the top of his agenda. And it is with the aim of imposing a most virulent brand of Islam that Ahmadinejad, the point-man of a most radical gang of Shi'a clerics, is doing all he can to acquire nuclear weapons capability.

It is tragic indeed that after 2500 years since the declaration of the first Charter of Human Rights, at the dawn of the new millennium, Iranians are struggling for basic human rights under the oppressive yoke of the Islamists.

Further indignity is inflicted on the people of Iran by the news that the Cyrus Cylinder in the British Museum is to be lent to the Islamic Republic. This priceless document belongs to Iran. Entrusting it to the hands of the sworn enemies of Iranian heritage entails an unacceptably high risk. It is imperative that the British authorities rescind the decision and take every measure to insure that the Cyrus Cylinder is preserved safely and returned to Iran only after the demise of the Islamic Republic.

It is not a case of unwarranted alarmism when a vast number of Iranians are deeply concerned about the fate of the Cyrus Cylinder, should it entrusted to the untrustworthy hands of the Islamists.  

The Islamic Republic of Iran is staffed by diehard elements who love nothing more than out-doing the heinous act of Afghanistan's Taliban who destroyed the irreplaceable two Buddha statues. What is enshrined in the Cyrus Cylinder is unconditional respect for the complete rights of all the people of the world, an anathema to the Islamists' credo.

It is with great apprehension that the Iranian people warn Mr. Andrew Murray Burnham, the British Secretary of State for culture, as well as the British government regarding the plan to lend this precious treasure of humanity to a contemptuous cult of medieval mullahs.

Furthermore, it is urgent that UNESCO immediately registers Cyrus the Great's Charter of Human Rights Cylinder in its World Heritage Memory, in order to safeguard the diverse cultural heritage of the peoples of the world
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