The Declaration of Human Rights written by Cyrus the Great has been hailed as the first charter of human rights, predating the Magna Carta by nearly two millenniums (~1700 years) and in 1971 the United Nations was published translation of it in all the official U.N. languages. It is now kept in the British Museum and it is no exaggeration to say that it is one of the most precious historical records of the world. Also a replica of the Cyrus cylinder is kept at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Cyrus the Great is regarded as one of the most outstanding figures in history. His success in creating and maintaining the Achaemenid Persian Empire was the result of an intelligent blending of diplomatic and military skills and his rule was tempered with wisdom and tact. He respected the culture, language and religion of subdued nations and did not assimilate nations in similar methods. He considered all nations equal in terms of their rights. Cyrus was relatively liberal and he was the first king who put an end to slavery and dictatorial oppression. While he himself ruled according to Zoroastrian beliefs, he made no attempt to impose Zoroastrianism on the people of his subject territories.
He was a very down to earth person. The Persians called him
father, the Greeks saw him as
A worthy ruler and lawgiver and the Jews regarded him as
The Lord’s anointed. His ideals were high, as he laid down that no man was fit to rule unless, he was more capable than all of his subjects. As an administrator Cyrus’ insight was great, and he showed himself both intelligent and reasonable. His humanity was equaled by his freedom from pride, which induced him to meet people on the same level, instead of affecting the remoteness and aloofness, which characterized the great monarchs who preceded and followed him.
History has further labeled him as a genius, diplomat, manager, and leader of men, the first great propagandist and able strategist. Cyrus was indeed worthy of the titleGreat.
He created the first humane, equal and religiously tolerant empire that consisted of a multitude of different languages, races, religions and cultures. It was the largest empire the ancient world had known, stretched in three continents and twenty-five nations. It made possible the first significant and continuous contact between East and West. The Persian Empire was also the first system of Federal Governments in the world! There were many states that were run by smaller kings who were under the great king or Shahan-Shah (King of Kings) and ultimately a courthouse (Kings & Queens could be sued by their own citizens for any wrongdoing). In detail, Each State had absolute internal autonomy to do as they pleased in their own internal affairs. It was a primitive form of Federalism in comparison to today’s Federal systems, but imagine back then when everyone including China, Egypt, Greece and later Rome practiced slavery and colonialism, Persians put an end to slavery and dictatorial oppression and granted internal autonomy to all states. All states had control over their affairs, their Educational system, local languages and even their own military forces! The only things that Persepolis required was absolute obedience to central government on international political and military affairs. Persian respect for local traditions, laws, languages, and religions set the foundation of a relatively benevolent empire.
Federalism is what made Persia strong! Even in times of war, each nation had to provide their own military force and combine they had to defend Mother Persia! They had to defend the Empire because the Empire guaranteed their internal autonomy, rights, freedom, independence, equality and humanity! This was the system, which Emperor Cyrus the Great built and the first humane Federal Empire of its kind in the world.
International Cyrus Day
October 29 is The Cyrus Human Rights Day celebrated worldwide. Supporters of human rights cherish this day to mark the famous Cylinder of Cyrus which is known to be the first chapter of human rights in the world, it was the day Cyrus put an end to slavery and dictatorial oppression, his goal was to exterminate such inhuman traditions around the world. By doing so, the Persians pioneered the freedom of religion and culture of the minorities in the world. On this day Cyrus was officially crowned and on the day of coronation, Cyrus read the Charter of Freedom out after he put on the crown with his hand in Marduk Temple. In the Charter, after introducing himself and mentioning the names of his father, first, second, and third ancestors, Cyrus says that he is the monarch of Persia, Babylon, and the four directions. Cyrus observed a policy of tolerance and equality during his time that was the key to creation of the greatest form of united nations and empire in the world.
Cyrus the Great entered the city of Babylon in 539 B.C.E, and liberated and protected the 50,000 Jews from captivity who were imprisoned by Babylonians and assisted them to migrate to their homeland and helped them to reconstruct their temple in Jerusalem at Persian taxpayer expense along with major fundings from his own royal treasury. Cyrus’s edict for the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem marked a great epoch in the history of the Jewish people and he was later considered as a messiah sent by Yahweh in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) as the patron and deliverer of the Jews. From these statements it appears that Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, was the monarch under whom the captivity and slavery ended.
Cyrus read the Charter of Freedom out after he put on the crown:
Now that I put the crown of kingdom of Persia I announce that I will respect the traditions, customs and religions of the nations of my empire and never let any of my governors and subordinates look down on or insult them. I will impose my monarchy on no nation. Each is free to accept it, and if any one of them rejects it, I never resolve on war to reign. I will never let anyone oppress any others, and if it occurs, I will take his or her right back and penalize the oppressor. I will never let anyone take possession of movable and landed properties of the others by force or without compensation. Until I am alive, I prevent unpaid, forced labor. Today, I announce that everyone is free to choose a religion. People are free to live in all regions and take up a job provided that they never violate other’s rights. No one can be penalized for his or her relatives’ faults. I prevent slavery and my governors and subordinates are obliged to prohibit exchanging men and women as slaves within their own ruling domains. Such a tradition should be exterminated the world over...continue »
The beloved wife of Cyrus
Cassandane Shahbanu (575–519 B.C.E.) was an Achaemenid Persian noblewoman, the daughter of Pharnaspes and the beloved wife of Cyrus the Great. She bore four children: Cambyses II (who succeeded his father and conquered Egypt), Smerdis (Bardiya) who also reigned as the king of Persia for a short time and a mighty daughter named Atusa. Princess Atusa later played an important role in Achaemenid royal house. Cyrus loved his Queen Cassandane dearly and when she died the entire empire observed a great mourning. Cyrus never recovered from the grief of losing her and stayed inactive for nearly a decade after her death.
Behind every great man there’s a great woman and vice versa!
There is a report in the chronicle of Nabonidus that, when
the king’s wife died, there was a longlasting public mourning in Persia along with all the twenty-five nations that were part of the empire. Queen Cassandane was buried in the tower called Zendaan-e Solaymaan at Pasargadae Persia.
530 B.C.E. Cyrus the Great was killed
The emperor was killed in battlefield from a wound inflicted from a poisonous arrow during a campaign against the Massagetes of central Asia. Cyrus’ body was brought back to Pasargade in Persia; his tomb, which still exists, consists of a single chamber built on a foundation course of six steps. The body was placed in a golden sarcophagus, and the tomb, bore the inscription. He is considered as the most respected world leaders to date. He always fought side by side with his soldiers and never left them alone in the battlefield.
His last wish was to be buried in Pasargadae in order to turn into Persian soil once again. He apologizes to people for not being able to use the soil of his tomb for some time. Cyrus the great, the founder of the greatest form of united nations to date rests in peace in Pasargadae shedding light on the future of the world civilization.
Cyrus Charter of Human Rights
The charter of Cyrus the Great (who ruled Persia from 559 to 529 B.C.E), a baked-clay Aryan language (Old Persian) cuneiform cylinder, was discovered in 1878 in excavation of the site of Babylon.
My numerous troops moved about undisturbed in the midst of Babylon. I did not allow anyone to terrorise the land of Sumer and Akkad. I kept in view the needs of Babylon and all its sanctuaries to promote their well being. I lifted their unbecoming yoke. Their dilapidated dwellings I restored. I put an end to their misfortunes.
I am Cyrus, King of the world, great king, mighty king, king of Babylon, king of the land of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters, son of Camboujiyah (Cambyases), great king, king of Anshân, grandson of Kourosh (Cyrus), great king, king of Anshân, descendant of Chaish-Pesh (Teispes), great king, king of Anshân, progeny of an unending royal line, whose rule Bel and Nabu cherish, whose kingship they desire for their hearts, pleasure. When I well -disposed, entered Babylon, I set up a seat of domination in the royal palace amidst jubilation and rejoicing. Marduk the great god, caused the big-hearted inhabitations of Babylon to ... ... ... ... ... me, I sought daily to worship him.
At my deeds Marduk, the great lord, rejoiced and to me, Kourosh (Cyrus), the king who worshipped him, and to Camboujiyah (Cambyases), my son, the offspring of (my) loins, and to all my troops he graciously gave his blessing, and in good sprit before him we glorified exceedingly his high divinity. All the kings who sat in throne rooms, throughout the four quarters, from the Upper to the Lower Sea, those who dwelt in ... ... ... ... ..., all the kings of the West Country, who dwelt in tents, brought me their heavy tribute and kissed my feet in Babylon. From ... ... ... ... ... to the cities of Ashur, Susa, Agade and Eshnuna, the cities of Zamban, Meurnu, Der as far as the region of the land of Gutium, the holy cities beyond the Tigris whose sanctuaries had been in ruins over a long period, the gods whose abode is in the midst of them, I returned to their places and housed them in lasting abodes.
I gathered together all their inhabitations and restored (to them) their dwellings. The gods of Sumer and Akkad whom Nabounids had, to the anger of the lord of the gods, brought into Babylon. I, at the bidding of Marduk, the great lord, made to dwell in peace in their habitations, delightful abodes.
May all the gods whom I have placed within their sanctuaries address a daily prayer in my favour before Bel and Nabu, that my days may be long, and may they say to Marduk my lord. May Cyrus the King, who reveres thee, and Camboujiyah (Cambyases) my son...
Now that I put the crown of kingdom of Persia, Babylon, and the nations of the four directions on the head with the help of God (Ahura Mazda), I announce that I will respect the traditions, customs and religions of the nations of my empire and never let any of my governors and subordinates look down on or insult them until I am alive. From now on, till God grants me the kingdom favor, I will impose my monarchy on no nation. Each is free to accept it , and if any one of them rejects it , I never resolve on war to reign. Until I am the king of Persia, Babylon, and the nations of the four directions, I never let anyone oppress any others, and if it occurs , I will take his or her right back and penalize the oppressor.
And until I am the monarch, I will never let anyone take possession of movable and landed properties of the others by force or without compensation. Until I am alive, I prevent unpaid, forced labor. To day, I announce that everyone is free to choose a religion. People are free to live in all regions and take up a job provided that they never violate other’s rights.
No one could be penalized for his or her relatives’ faults. I prevent slavery and my governors and subordinates are obliged to prohibit exchanging men and women as slaves within their own ruling domains. Such a traditions should be exterminated the world over.
I implore to God to make me succeed in fulfilling my obligations to the nations of Persia, Babylon, and the ones of the four directions.
On 12th October 1971 Iran marked the 2500th anniversary of Cyrus’ founding of the Persian Empire. The then Shah of Iran, in his speech opening the celebrations, said:
O Cyrus, great King, King of Kings, Achaemenian King, King of the land of Iran. I, the Shahanshah of Iran, offer thee salutations from myself and from my nation. Rest in peace, for we are awake, and we will always stay awake...