Cyrus was a great champion of freedom, justice, and human rights during one of the darkest periods of human history.
At the height of slavery, Cyrus called for freedom of belief and religion.
In 538 BC, he freed tens of thousands of adherents to the Jewish faith, whom Nebuchadnezzar captured during repeated raids on Jerusalem, enslaved, and thrown into the dungeons of Babylon.
At the same time, Cyrus issued his famous declaration of human rights, which is preserved in its original cylinder of baked clay in the British Museum.
The declaration reads in part: “When I came to Babylon, I made the royal palace the seat of my rule with pride and joy… My great army moved through the city of Babylon without disturbance. I did not allow anyone to terrorize the land of Sumer and Akkad. I considered the needs of Babylon and all its places of worship and tried to improve their condition. I have removed the disgusting yoke of the people of Babylon. I rebuilt their ruined houses; I put an end to their miseries… I restored the holy cities beyond the Tigris, whose shrines were in ruins for a long time, and I restored the bodies of the gods who were among them in their place and in a stable abode. I gave them a place. I gathered all their inhabitants and gave them back their houses…”
Because of these accomplishments, this great historical figure is praised in holy books with the most beautiful and powerful expressions. In the Torah, he is referred to as “Messiah,” and the Qur’an identifies him with a title that was already known among the people, especially Jews: “Dhu al-Qarnayn.”
Cyrus bears no resemblance to the despots and tyrants who have ruled the Iranian people in recent times. His conduct has no similarity with their actions. For this reason, even though the people of Iran have long rejected the concept of monarchy, they respect him.
It is natural that the mullahs, whose 44-year record consists of nothing but repression, bloodshed, looting, and discrimination, are hostile to the preachers of humanity, human rights, and freedom of thought and religion. They have been trying to erase our people’s awareness that their nation, more than two thousand five hundred years ago, was a herald of justice and liberation for itself and other oppressed nations.
In recent years, the people of Iran have celebrated this day as a symbol of opposition to the mullahs’ rule, and they have gathered at Cyrus’s tomb in Pasargård to celebrate freedom, despite the regime closing the roads and arresting people in an effort to stop it.
This year, this ceremony will be held while the Iranian people continue protesting for freedom, chanting slogans like “death to Khamenei” and “death to the oppressor, be it the Shah or the supreme leader.” This uprising has continued unabated for the past six weeks despite the mullahs’ suppression, and it has become clearer than ever that there are real prospects for the end of oppressive rule and the establishment of a republic and democratic government that embodies the essential freedoms for which Cyrus was an evangelist.