Iranians barred from marking Cyrus Day by visiting grave

Iranian security officials breathed a sigh of relief probably as October 29 drew to a close and the long autumn day at Dasht-I Murghab quietly plunged into twilight.

The day coincided with Cyrus the Great Day, the founder of the ancient Iranian dynasty, the Achaemenids, whose empire-building in the 6th century BC was marked by respect for diversity and human rights. . Its empire extended from Central Asia and the eastern wing of the Persian plateau and beyond to the Mediterranean shores and North Africa.

The day of Cyrus the Great (c. 600-530 BC) on October 29 of this year passed without incident. However, security measures were deliberately visible in Shiraz, the nearest large city to the monument of the former king’s tomb at Pasargadae, some 60 miles in the mostly arid plain to the northwest of the city. The date was chosen based on estimates that he captured Babylon on October 28 or 29 in 539 BC.

Security police have been vigilant in Shiraz since Thursday, questioning anyone who looked like a tourist to make sure they were not going to visit Pasargadae, eyewitnesses told Shiraz.

Security forces arrested the parents of Navid Afkari on Friday morning, whose unfair trial and execution in 2019 wreaked havoc in Iran. The elderly parents were arrested with a birthday cake with Cyrus the Great’s face painted on it with frosting. Reports from Iran say they were released in less than two hours, after being warned to ensure they will not be part of any protests to mark the royal anniversary two weeks before the anniversary protests in 2019 in which security forces killed hundreds of peaceful people. demonstrators.

The Edict of Cyrus the Great on the Protection of the Rights of All People Discovered in Present-Day Iraq

The reason for the strict security measures in Shiraz and on the Pasargadae road was the authorities’ fear that, as in previous years, thousands of people would defy the security measures and show up around the tomb of the former king. The Islamic Republic has eschewed Iran’s long history of thousands of years of monarchy as if it did not exist as an empire that ruled most of the known world.

Another reason was that Prince Reza Pahlavi, heir to the Iranian monarchy, sent a message to the nation to mark the day. He called on the Iranians, “Remember the name and memory of Cyrus the Great in any way you can, wherever you are. Show the world that you are a united, freedom-loving and tolerant nation. Each of you should represent the great ancient nation of Iran. The world should not identify Iran with the ruling criminal cult that rules the Islamic Republic. “

The great gathering of October 29, 2016 at the tomb of Cyrus

The current regime has denied the popularity of the Iranian monarchy and its national heritage. Some religious fanatics wanted to ruin the monuments of Pasargadae and Persepolis immediately after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, but people’s resistance against fundamentalism did not allow them to do what they wanted.

Nonetheless, just two weeks ago, President Ebrahim Raisi blundered during a visit to Persepolis by saying that the monuments were reminiscent of oppressor kings. He made the comment without taking into account that Cyrus the Great is internationally respected as a champion of human rights.

In a video posted on social networks, Princess Ashraf Pahlavi, twin sister of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, is seen donating ancient works of art to the United Nations which testify to Iran’s leading role as a defender of human rights. man thousands of years ago. anti-human rights image of the Islamic Republic recently portrayed by the United Nations rapporteur for human rights in Iran Javid Rehman.

Last week, when the Minister of Cultural Heritage and Tourism, Ezzatollah Zarghami, called for digging water wells around the tomb of Cyrus the Great, an act that would harm the monument, social media users such as cultural activist Mohammad Bagher Tabatabai warned Zarghamithat “The tomb of Cyrus the Great has a place in the heart of every Iranian. You can never destroy it.”

Outside Iran, the former Assistant US Under Secretary of State Len Khodorkovsky wrote in an October 29 tweet: “Cyrus the Great is a source of pride for the Iranian people. Its legacy of openness and tolerance will survive the corruption and brutality of the provisional regime in power today, and usher in a new Iranian renaissance.

In recent years, especially after the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and despite the Islamic Republic’s violent crackdown on pro-monarchy protests, thousands of Iranians have flocked to Pasargadae to pay homage to the great ancient king. The celebration has taken on epic dimensions since 2016. Since 2017, the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) have deployed forces in the region and blocked all roads leading to Pasargadae to ensure that the celebrations do not take place. Yet hundreds of young men and women managed to gather around the monument and sing patriotic hymns.

In the absence of reliable reports from Iran, especially on events the government does not wish to highlight, it is extremely difficult to verify the date and authenticity of the images showing gatherings around the monument, some paying homage to Cyrus by kissing his burial. ground. This year’s celebration may not have been as monumental as in previous years, but Iranians have used Cyrus’s name as hashtags in both Persian and English on King’s Remembrance Day.

About Pamela Boon

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