(CAIS) -- Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum (BM) was in Iran
to return the Cyrus Cylinder, a 20cm Ancient Iranian clay cylinder, often
described as the world's
first charter of human rights back to UK. In seven months on loan
from the BM to the National Museum of Iran (NMI) it has been seen by more than
two million Iranians, claimed by Iran.
believes that the cylinder -- and objects like it -- can do what politicians
often fail to do and bring antagonistic countries closer together. It is not
diplomacy, MacGregor asserts, since he is not advancing the agenda of a
government post. Instead, he is honouring the original vision of the BM's
founders, who wanted the institution to be a resource and forum for debate
available to everybody in the world, "native and foreign". "I
don't understand politics," he says. "It takes a completely
different set of skills and experiences", writes Ben Hoyle for The Time.
is however, no high-level diplomatic dialogue between London and Tehran, and
the political relationship consists chiefly of dressings down from the British
about Iran's nuclear programmes, rather than appalling human rights record.
This was the same Foreign Office that through the BBC Persian, known as the
orchestrated the fall of the former regime in Iran and the rise of despotic
Mullahs to power.
McGregor visit to Tehran, Jane Marriott, the senior British diplomat in
Tehran, releases a media-pleasing statement that "the Cyrus Cylinder
demonstrated Persia's leading commitment to human rights. We would like to see
modern-day Iran take up this mantle again and adhere to the international
instruments on human rights that it has signed".
MacGregor up close with senior members of a regime that Iranians have
hopelessly tried to topple from power, you wonder at first if he is quietly
enlarging the common ground between them all the time, that the loan of the
cylinder has created a rare forum for human rights to be talked about in Iran.
Then you realise he is too idealistic, as this is the superpowers’ game of
chess; - the totalitarian-theocratic regime is going about their daily
business of abusing human rights and pillaging Iran – while the Western
powers keep the regime in check, to be a villain state in the Middle-East and
to act as a scarecrow, to sell their arms to the Persian Gulf’s rich but
gullible Arabs states. After all, the Mullahs are doing what their Western
masters who brought them to power to do in 1979.
the victims here are the Iranian peoples, their country and national-heritage,
as neither the 'benevolent
ancestor' nor his Cylinder or the good-hearted BM director can rescue them
from the dirty game of international politics.
the Great Cylinder was found during a British Museum
excavation at Babylon in Iraq in 1879, and has been in the British Museum
since that time. It was originally inscribed and buried in the foundations of
a wall after Cyrus the Great, considered by Iranians as the ‘Father of
Nation’, captured Babylon in 539 BCE.
records that aided by the god Marduk, Cyrus took Babylon without any
struggle, restored shrines dedicated to different gods and repatriated
deported peoples who had been brought to Babylon. It was this decree that
allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. Because of
these enlightened acts, which were rare in antiquity, the Cylinder has
acquired a special resonance, and is valued by people all around the world as
a symbol of tolerance and respect for different peoples and different faiths.
These are the qualities for which Cyrus is revered in the Hebrew Bible.
fragments of a tablet were also found in the19th century British Museum
excavations in or near Babylon. These fragments were identified by experts at
the Museum in January 2010 as being inscribed with parts of the same text as
the Cylinder but do not belong to it. Initially, they show that the text of
the Cylinder was probably a proclamation that was widely distributed across
the Persian Empire (550-330 BCE). In August 2010, however the extracts of
Cyrus the Great Cylinder were
also discovered in China.
extracts were carved with cuneiform inscriptions on two fossilised horse
bones. They were initially dismissed as fakes because of the improbability of
ancient Persian texts turning up in Beijing, but following an in-depth
research, the BM specialist Irving Finkel was convinced of their authenticity.
With the findings become clear that the proclamation were widely
distributed beyond the borders of the Persian Empire.
the Cyrus Cylinder is called the world's oldest human rights document, Eurocentrics,
anti-Semitics and Muslim fundamentalists alike claim it was common in
Mesopotamia for a king to begin their rule with such reform declarations,
despite the fact that no such a creed has ever been discovered to support