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Cyrus the Great's Charter of Human Rights

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Cyrus the Great Charter of Human Rights. Remember that the charter was published about 2500 years ago.

The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies (CAIS) 1998-2005, all rights reserved.

 

... Now that I put the crown of kingdom of Iran, Babylon, and the nations of the four directions on the head with the help of [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 [Ahura] Mazda grants me the kingdom favour, 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 Iran, 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 labour. 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 [Ahura] Mazda to make me succeed in fulfilling my obligations to the nations of Iran (Persia), Babylon, and the ones of the four directions.

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Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia

The charter of Cyrus the Great, a baked-clay cuneiform cylinder, was discovered in 1878 in excavation of the site of Babylon. In it, Cyrus the Great described his humane treatment of the inhabitants of Babylonia, after its conquest by the Iranians.

The document has been hailed as the first charter of human rights, and in 1971 the United Nations was published translation of it in all the official U.N. languages. "May Ahura Mazda protect this land, this nation, from rancour, from foes, from falsehood, and from drought". Selected from the book "The Eternal Land".

Cyrus's charter, adopted by Cyrus the Great on his coronation day in Babylon for the first Persian Empire, is considered advanced for its age, even comparing favourably with modern declarations of human rights, against which it is also contrasted as being much more spiritual. Also noteworthy about this charter beyond its extreme age are its explicitness and its rejection of some superstitions of the ancient world.

Cyrus the Great entered the city of Babylon in 539 BC, and after the winter, on the first day of spring, he was officially crowned:

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. The citizens of Babylon ................. I lifted their unbecoming yoke. Their dilapidated dwellings I restored. I put an end to their misfortunes.

The description of the coronation of Cyrus is the most elaborate one in the world written by the Greek philosopher, politician, and historian Xenephon (Cyropaedia of Xenophon, The Life of Cyrus The Great).

On the day of coronation, Cyrus read the Charter of Freedom out after he put on the crown with his hand in Marduk Temple.

Uncertain and the full text of the Charter was unavailable until an inscription was found during the excavation works in the old city of Ur in Mesopotamia. After the translation of the words, it was found out that the document was the same Charter. 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.

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 Iran, Babylon, and the four continents:

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I am Cyrus, King of the globe, great king, mighty king, King of Babylon, king of the land of Sumer and Akad, King of ......, king of the four quarters of Earth, son of Cambysis (Kambujiye), great king, king of Anshan, grandson of Cyrus (Kurosh), great king, king of Anshan, descendant of Teispes (Chaish Pish), great king, king of Anshan, progeny of an unending royal line, whose rule, The Gods, Bel and Nabu cherish, whose kingship they desire for their hearts' and pleasures.

When I well disposed, entered Babylon, I had established the seat of government in the royal palace of the ruler, amidst jubilation and rejoicing. Marduk the great god, induced the magnanimous inhabitants of Babylon to love me, and I sought daily to worship him .......

...... when my numerous soldiers in great numbers peacefully entered Babylon and moved about undisturbed in the midst of the Babylon, I did not allow anyone to terrorize the people of the lands of Sumer and Akad and ...... I kept in view, the needs of the people and all their sanctuaries to promote their well being. I strove for peace in Babylon and in all his other sacred cities. As to the inhabitants of Babylon who against the will of the gods were enslaved, I abolished the corvee which was against their social standing, I freed all slaves. I brought relief to their dilapidated housing, putting thus an end to their misfortunes and slavery ......

...... Marduk, the great lord, was well pleased with my deeds, rejoiced and to me, Cyrus, the king who worshipped him, and to Cambysis, my son, the offspring of my loins, and to all my troops he graciously gave his blessing, and in good sprit, before him we stood peacefully and praised him joyously.

All the kings who sat in throne rooms, throughout the four quarters, from the Upper Sea (Mediterranean Sea) to the Lower Sea (Persian Gulf), those who dwelt in ...... and all those who live in other types of buildings as well as all the kings of the West Land, who dwelt in tents, brought me their heavy tribute and kissed my feet in The Babylon. As to the region, from ...... to the cities of Ashur, Susa (Shoosh), Agade and Eshnuna, the cities of Zamban, Me-Turnu, Der as far as the region of the land of Gutium, the holy cities beyond the Tigris River, 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 also gathered all their former inhabitants and returned to them their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled upon the command of Marduk, the great lord, all the gods of Sumer and Akad whom Nabonid had brought into Babylon to the anger of the lord of the gods, unharmed, in their former chapels, the places which makes them happy.

May all the gods whom I have placed within their sanctuaries and resettled in their sacred cities, address a daily prayer in my favor before Bel and Nabu, that my days may be long, and may they recommend me to him, to Marduk my lord, they may say: "May Cyrus the King, who worships thee, and Cambysis his son ...... all gods I settled in a peaceful place, I sacrificed ducks and doves, I endeavored to repair their dwelling places ......

In the inscription of Ur, which was found to be the same Charter and is now kept in the British Museum, we also read (inter alia) the following words which are of a special spiritual and at the same time clear kind:

Until I am the King of Iran, Babylon and the nations of 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 ... I implore to (Ahura) Mazda to make me succeed in fulfilling my obligations ...

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