Iraq: Birthplace of the Human Rights Charter

When the French colonised the Middle East and Africa their strategy to subdue those they had invaded was to take a blade to the fabric of each society. They enforced French as the official language and muddled culture in a similar vein to the Spanish in South America, whose imperialism is symbolised by the crushing of local temples beneath churches. Despite revisiting Assyria and Mesopotamia via the gates of war and one of the region’s most influential artefacts of all time having been excavated with replicas on show in the UN – nations such as France alongside others, have failed to adopt its transcendent message in their national politics.

Left: Hormuzd Rassam who unearthed Cyrus' Cylinder Right: Cyrus' Cylinder
Left: Hormuzd Rassam who unearthed Cyrus’ Cylinder
Right: Cyrus’ Cylinder

Cyrus’ Cylinder (559-530 BC) was discovered in 1879 at the site of Marduk’s temple in Babylonia. The cuneiform tablet describes how Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon and freed it from its tyrannical ruler, Nabonidus. The three main decrees imposed upon his new kingdom included; a repatriation programme, which would aid displaced citizens of varying ethnicity to return to their places of origin, all temples irrespective of religious affiliation were to be restored and despite his newly conquered peoples following a plethora of religions except for his own, they were able to practice freely within his borders. In codifying his plans as king, Cyrus was able to not only demonstrate his belief that free will should be a protected human right, but showed off his understanding of the correct circumstances required to propagate a harmonious society despite its myriad of ethnicities which is still representative of the region today. Expelling and punishing those who do not believe in God, banning Arabic sounding names or treating the youth belonging to particular groups as a threat to security only guarantees a suspicious and hateful society. The earliest dated record of human rights we have discovered thus far was born in the Middle East and it is our duty to the world that it is honoured correctly.


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