Paris, 21 July (IPS In an article carried recently by the online site of the influential German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, entitled “UN Treasure Honors Persian Despot”, Herr Mahias Schultz argues that like the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlvai, Emperor Cyrus the Great was “also a despot” and therefore, the United Nations must throw out the document referring to Cyrus the paternalism of human rights!
By reading the article, one does not grasp what exactly the authors who committed this piece of hate want to demonstrate: That the deposed Shah of Iran was a despot, that he “forged” the Cyrus declaration establishing for the first time that each man must be free to practice his religion or culture? Or solely that the document about Cyrus is a forgery and a hoax? And if this claim is correct, what it has to do with the Shah?
“A 2,500-year-old cuneiform document displayed in a glass case at the United Nations in New York and revered to as an "ancient declaration of human rights", is nothing but the work of a despot who had his enemies tortured”.
Also, one is wondered how come that the gentlemen referred in the article as “researchers”, “experts” and “historians” have discovered something ignored by hundreds of other genuine historians, researchers and experts on Iranian and Middle Eastern histories?
As I reproduce exactly the article, I gave myself the authorization of interjecting naïve questions to the so-called experts and researchers named in he article in bold brackets ().
Here is the article and the questions:
“A 2,500-year-old cuneiform document ceremoniously displayed in a glass case at the United Nations in New York is revered as an "ancient declaration of human rights." But in fact, argue researchers, the document was the work of a despot who had his enemies tortured”. (Two questions: would the researchers say that it was the Shah that “invented the myth” and, what is the relation between a “despot who tortured his enemies” to his “invention” of the myth of Cyrus?)
“Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi was planning a record-breaking gala. First he proclaimed the "White Revolution," a land reform program, and then declared himself the "Light of the Aryans." Finally, in October of 1971, he had taken it upon himself to celebrate "2,500 years of the Iranian monarchy." The organizers of the celebration had promised to deliver "the greatest show on earth." (Actually, when the Shah proclaimed his White revolution, which the writer deliberately fails to mention other points of the six-points Revolution,including the Literary Corp, the emancipation of women, etc.. he had absolutely not in mind the big gala. The idea came to his courtesans much later)
The Shah had 50 opulent tents set up amid the ruins of Persepolis. Invited dignitaries included 69 heads of state and crowned monarchs. The guests consumed 20,000 liters of wine, ate quail eggs with pheasant and gilded caviar. Magnum bottles of Château Lafite circled the tables. (What all these have to do with Cyrus? As a matter of fact, Germany was also among the world leaders).
“At the high point of the festival, the Shah walked to the grave of Cyrus II who, in the 6th century B.C., had conquered more than 5 million square kilometers (1.9 million square miles) of land in a long and bloody war. (This ceremony was before the opening of the festival)
“Critics at the time complained that $100 million (€63 million) was a lot of money to spend celebrating the ancient Persian king. "Should I serve heads of state bread and radishes instead?" was the Shah's brusque rejoinder. (Actually, this is not a “claim”, but a reality mentioned by the majority of the Iranians. But how would the authors of this article treat their guests, if they were in place of the Shah. With wurst and beer, maybe!).
One of the cover pages of Der Spegel, its online site claiming that Cyrus the Great was a "despot" like Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
“Religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini, still in exile at the time, was also quick to issue his scathing criticism: "The crimes committed by Iranian kings have blackened the pages of history books." (Did Khomeini consider other kings as humanists?)
“But the Shah knew better. Cyrus, he announced, was a very special man: noble and filled with love and kindness. The Shah insisted that Cyrus was the first to establish a right to "freedom of opinion.” (He was right, because Cyrus was the first Monarch to let all the peoples in his empire to enjoy their rights, religious, cultural, social)
'Ancient Declaration of Human Rights'
“Pahlevi also ensured that his view of history would be taken to the United Nations. On Oct. 14, just as the party in Persepolis was in full swing, his twin sister walked into the United Nations building in New York, where she handed a copy of a cuneiform document, about the size of a rolling pin, to then Secretary General Sithu U Thant. Thant thanked her for the "historic gift" and promptly praised it as an "ancient declaration of human rights."
“Suddenly even the UN secretary-general was insisting that Cyrus "wanted peace," and that the Persian king had "shown the wisdom to respect other civilizations." (Was he wrong?).
“Then Thant had the clay cylinder (which contains a supposedly particularly humane decree by Cyrus II dated 539 B.C.) displayed in a glass case in the main UN building. And there it continues to lie today, directly adjacent to a copy of the world's oldest peace treaty.
“Those were grand gestures and grand words, but in the end it was nothing but a hoax that the UN had fallen for. Contrary to the Shah's claims, the cuneiform degree was "propaganda," explains Josef Wiesehöfer, a scholar of ancient history at the University of Kiel in the northern Germany. "The notion that Cyrus introduced concepts of human rights is nonsense. (How does he know that? On which document he bases himself of denying a historical fact regognised by all other historians, unless he wants to say other historians have also been misled by the Shah?)
“Hanspeter Schaudig, an Assyriologist at the University of Heidelberg in the southwestern Germany, says that he too would be hard-pressed to see the ancient king as a pioneer when it comes to equality and human dignity. Indeed, Cyrus demanded that his subjects kiss his feet. (Actually, if Herr Achauding is really a historian, he must know that until very recently, it was a habit for people to kiss the hand of the elders, let alone the King. Cyrus did not need to “demand” his subjects to kiss his hands).
“The ruler was responsible for a 30-year war that consumed the Orient and forced millions to pay heavy taxes. Anyone who refused stood to have his nose and ears cut off. Those sentenced to death were buried up to their heads in sand, left to be finished off by the sun. (What about other conquerors, the Greek, the Mongols, the Romans, the Chinese, the British, the French, the Christians, the Muslims …Was their behaviour with the conquered people any better?)
“Religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini, was also quick to issue his scathing criticism: "The crimes committed by Iranian kings have blackened the pages of history books."
“Did the UN simply believe this historical lie -- concocted by the Shah -- without any further examination?
'The UN Made a Serious Mistake'
Art historian Klaus Gallas, who is preparing a German-Iranian cultural festival to take place in Weimar next summer, has now brought the matter to the public's attention. During his preparations for the festival he discovered the inconsistencies between the Shah's claims and the Cyrus decree. "The UN made a serious mistake," says Gallas. (Why he does not explain the “serious mistake?”)
“Despite having been contacted by SPIEGEL several times, the organization has declined to comment on the incident. Indeed, the UN Information Service in Vienna continues to insist that many still consider the cuneiform cylinder from the Orient to be the "first human rights document."
“The aftermath of the hoax has been disastrous. Even German schoolbooks describe the ancient Persian king as a pioneer of humane policies. According to a forged translation on the Internet, Cyrus even supported a minimum wage and right to asylum. (Who did the translation? Does not the translation dates to pre-internet era? Why no one ever before realised that the translation is forged, and what the correct document proclaims?)
"Slavery must be abolished throughout the world," the fake translation reads. "Every country shall decide for itself whether or not it wants my leadership." (Then what is the correct translation then? How come that no one before realized that the document is fake” What is wrong with the man that “faked” the document? Was he a late admirer of the Emperor? Was the Shah who “faked” the document?)
“Even Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, was taken in by the hoax. "I am an Iranian. A descendant of Cyrus the Great," she said in her speech in Oslo. "The very emperor who proclaimed at the pinnacle of power 2,500 years ago that ... he would not reign over the people if they did not wish it."
The experts are now stunned at this example of a rumor gone wild. (So, what are we facing? A rumour? A faked document? An Emperor who was made into a man who proclaimed mankind must be free in his believes?)
“If one thing is clear, it is that the figure at the center of this hoax radically shook the ancient Orient like no other ruler. With what German scholar Wiesehöfer calls "military strokes of genius," Cyrus advanced with his armies to India and to the Egyptian border. He is considered the creator of a new kind of country. “At the height of his power, he was the ruler of a magnificent empire bursting with prosperity. (What is wrong with that?)
“But it all began far more modestly. Born the son of an insignificant minor king in what is today southwestern Iran, the young man mounted the throne in 559 B.C. (How many of the world’s admired leaders were born in opulence?)
“Even in antiquity, bizarre legends were associated with the king. According to one of them, Cyrus grew up in the wild and was nursed by a female dog. There are no contemporary images of him (where can we get a “contemporary image” of him?).
Cyrus's human rights epigraph that some German so-called historians claim is a "fake".
“His neighbors to the west soon felt the brunt of this man's determination. After conquering the neighboring Elamite people, he attacked the Median Empire in 550 B.C. with his army's fast combat chariots and soldiers dressed in bronze armor.
“After that, the upstart king invaded Asia Minor, or modern Turkey, where hundreds of thousands of Greeks lived in colonies. Well-to-do citizens from Priene were enslaved.
“The general recuperated from the trials of war at his residence in Pasargadae. It was surrounded by an irrigated garden known as the "paradeisos" and was home to a sumptuous harem.
“But Cyrus soon became restless in his palace and returned to the front, this time heading east to Afghanistan. His life ended at 71, somewhere in Uzbekistan, when a spear punctured his thigh. He died three days later.
“Courageous in battle and adept in the politics of running his empire, Cyrus, says Wiesehöfer, was a "pragmatist" who attained his goals with "carrots and sticks." But he was no humanist.
“Some Greeks praised the conqueror. Herodotus and Aeschylus (who lived after Cyrus's death) called him merciful. The Bible describes him as the "anointed one," because he supposedly permitted the abducted Jews to return to Israel. (But if we are to believe the authors of this article, even Bible had been misled, taking the forged translation as a genuine one. But this mention in the Sacred Book also shows that the Cyrus proclamation had already been translated)
“Only the Shah, who had his own problems in the 1960s, could have come up with the idea of reinterpreting this man as an originator of human rights.
“But modern historians have long since debunked such reports as flattery. "A shining image of Cyrus was created in antiquity," Wiesehöfer says. In truth, he was a violent ruler, like many others, (at last, he says something which make sense). His army ransacked residential neighborhoods and holy sites, and the urban elites were deported. (As did other conquerors until very recently).
“Only the Shah, who had his own problems in the 1960s, could have come up with the idea of reinterpreting this man as an originator of human rights. (Why only the Shah? Why this obsession with the Shah?) Despite his SAVAK secret police's notorious torture practices, there was resistance throughout the country. Marxist groups carried out bombings while mullahs called upon their followers to resist the government.
“In response, the Shah attempted to invoke his ancient predecessors. Just as Cyrus was once the father of the nation, he insisted, "So am I today."
"The history of our empire begins with the famous proclamation by Cyrus," the Shah claimed. "It is one of the most magnificent documents ever written on the spirit of freedom and justice in the history of mankind."
“One thing is true, and that is the clay cylinder documents a banal story of political betrayal. When the text was written in 539 B.C., Cyrus found himself in what was probably the most dramatic part of his life. He had dared to attack the New Babylonian Empire, his powerful rival for dominance of the Orient, a realm that extended all the way to Palestine. Its capital, the magnificent city of Babylon, crowned by a 91-meter tower, was also a center of knowledge and culture. The empire itself was bristling with weapons.
“Nevertheless, the Persian ruler decided to risk attacking the Babylonians. His troops marched down the Tigris River. After attacking the fortified city of Opis and killing all prisoners, they advanced on Babylon.
“There, barricaded behind an 18-kilometer (11-mile) wall around the city, sat Cyrus' beleaguered enemy: King Nabonid, an old man of 80.
“At that very moment, the priests of the god Marduk were committing treason against their own country. Angry over the loss of power they had suffered under their king, they secretly opened the gates and allowed hostile Persian negotiators to enter the city. Nabonid was banished and his son murdered.
“The conditions for a complete surrender were then hammered out. Cyrus demanded the release of fellow Persians who had been carried off in earlier wars. He also insisted on the return of stolen statues of gods.
These were the passages that the Shah would later reinterpret as a general rejection of slavery. In truth, Cyrus merely freed his own followers. (Would you not do that, if you were a statesman responsible to your citizens?)
“In compensation for their treacherous services, the priests were given money and estates. In return, they praised Cyrus as a "great" and "just" man and as someone who "saved the entire world from hardship and distress."
“Only after all the arrangements had been made did the king enter Babylon, riding in through the blue-glazed Gate of Ishtar. Reeds were spread on the ground at his feet. Then, as is written in line 19 of the Cyrus proclamation, the people were permitted to "kiss his feet."
“There is no evidence of moral reforms or humane commandments in the cuneiform document. Assyriologist Schaudig calls it "a brilliant piece of propaganda." (Created by whom? Goebbels, maybe?)
“But the legend of this prince of peace had been born, thanks to the wily priests of Babylon. And since it was placed on a pedestal by the UN, it has become even more inflated.
“Iran's mullahs have not escaped the Cyrus cult. In mid-June, the British Museum in London announced that it planned to lend the valuable original cylinder to Tehran. It has become an object of Persian national pride.
"The German Bundestag even recently received a petition to have the proclamation exhibited in a glass case at the Reichstag building," says Gallas.
“The petition was denied, and yet the distortion of history continues. With its disastrous tribute, the UN gave birth to a seemingly never-ending rumor. (So, who gave birth to this rumor? The Shah? The Bible? The Jews? The UN? ? Or maybe the authors of this hoax, -- which seriously harms the image of a serious and high-quality publication like Der Spiegel -- want this document be replaced by the original of Mein Kampf at the entrance of the United Nations?).
“As the saying from the Orient goes: "A fool may throw a stone into a well which a hundred wise men cannot pull out." (Actually, the “saying” is a Persian proverb. My last question is: What all this deliberate effort to denigrate and reject a document, which even fake, proclaims what is the basis of to-day’s principle of universal human rights? What the article want to prove? That Shah Mohammad was a despot, like Cyrus, or Cyrus, as a despot, could not have respect for mankind? For my part, I seriously think that all the persons mentioned in the article want to humiliate the Iranians.) ENDS CYRUS THE KILLER 21708
And bellow is the Text of the Charter of Human Rights of Cyrus
Now that with the grace of Mazda I am crowned for the kingdom of Iran ,
Babylonia and the four cardinal countries , I declare that :
As long as I am alive and favoured by Mazda for the kingdom of Iran , Babylonia and the four cardinal countries , I undertake to hnour the religion and custom of all nations under my kingdom . Thus , no governor or other subordinates under my realm shall be allowed to humiliate or insult the religion or custom of the nations under my kingdom or of other nations .
From now , that I am crowned , until I am alive and blessed by Mazda for this kigdom , I shall never impose my kingdom to any nation , since the peaple are free to accept or be no war agaist them .
As long as I am the king of Iran , Babylonia and the four cardinal countries , I shall not allow any one to oppress another . So , if anybody ‘ s right is injured , I shall take it from the oppressor and punish him and shall give it back to the oppressed .
As long as I live , I shall not allow anyone to dispossess others ‘ property by force or take it without concideration or satisfaction of the owner .
As long as I live , I shall not allow anyone to use forced or unpaid labour .
Today I announce that everybody is free to choose any religion he believes in , and live any where he desires , provided he does not arrogate others ‘ rights , and take any occupation he likes , and spend his property in any way he decides , providing he does not harm others ‘ rights .
I declare that every person is responcible for himself , and that no one shall be punished for actions committed by his relatives . Thus , punishment of the criminal ‘ s brother is forbidden . If a member of a family or tribe committed a crime , the person to be punished should be only the criminal , not others .
So long as , with the grace of Mazda , I rule as the king , I shall not allow any man or woman to be sold as a slave . In this regard , my governors and other subordinates shall be responcible , in the sphere of their influence , to prevent the trade of slavery . This custom should be totally abolished throughout the world .
And , I beg Mazda to succeed me in performing the obligations I have taken towardds the nations of Iran , Babylonia and the nations of the four cardinal countries .