The Story of Human Rights


The people of history and today are heirs of Cyrus the Great, one the founding rulers of not only ancient Iran or Persia but a pioneer in respecting the rights of diverse peoples in terms of religious worship, cultures, nations and languages. The late Professor Will Durant has perhaps best summarized the core mission of the Cyrus the Great. According to Durant

The first principle of his [Cyrus the Great] policy was that the various peoples of his empires would be left free in their religious worship and beliefs, for he fully understood the first principle of statesmanship – that religion is stronger than the state. Instead of sacking cities and wrecking temples he showed a courteous respect for the deities of the conquered, and contributed to maintain their shrines…Like Napoleon he accepted indifferently all religions…” (Durant, 1942, pp.353).

As in Cyrus’s time, Iranians not only speak Persian but are also heir to a rich and diverse legacy of languages and traditions spanning the millennia. It is this diversity and the common link of the Persian language that has made Iran unique and perhaps a defining characteristic that has allowed her to endure across the ages.  It is possible that this ouitlook was at least partly an outgrowth of the ancient monotheistic religion of Zoroaster. As duly noted by Graf, Hirsch, Gleason, & Krefter, 1988:

 “Belief in a heavenly afterlife for good people and torment for evildoers may have been partly responsible for the moral treatment that Achaemenid Kings accorded subject nations…”.

The video below has been posted in the most recent edition of the WAALM-School of Cultural Diplomacy Journal which outlines the history and evolution of Human Rights:

It is significant that the above production specifically cites Cyrus the Great as the pioneer of human rights in history.

Cyrus the Great (559-530 BC)


Durant, Will (1942) The Story of Civilization:(Part One): Our Oriental Heritage. New York: Simon & Shuster.

D. F. Graf, S. W. Hirsch, K. Gleason & F. Krefter (1988). A Soaring Spirit. Amsterdam: Time-Life Books.

New Link for Iran, China and Asia


There is now a new link for Iran, Chian and Asia on this website: is especialy grateful to Dr. Jamshid Jamshidi for allowing the posting of articles by Dr. Masato Tojo. Interested readers are invited to visit Dr. Jamshidi’s SHAMOGOLOPARVANEH website at:

Shop with modified Persian script in Kashgar, northwest China. This is one of the legacies of the historical silk route straddling between ancient Iran and China, having its orgins in the pre-Islamic era and enduring well into the post-Islamic era. The shop sign reads “Jaanan Zaaferan”  or Jaanan’s saffron.  

Tajik speakers of China: Heir to an Ancient Tradition


Few realize that China is host to s small population of Iranian-speakers who are Tajiks akin to those in Tajikestan and fellow-Iranic peoples in Iran, Afghanistan, Caucasia and the Kurds of Iraq, Turkey and Syria.

More research is required in the study of these peoples in China to help address current misconceptions in this domain. As asserted by Dr. William Saffron:

 “There is a group of 26,000 Indo-Iranian speakers in China in the Pamirs near the Karakorum highway…the Chinese government…calls them Tajiks…However Tajik is not spoken in China” (Saffron, 1998, pp.75).

This claim is contradicted by TV programs in Chinese television which show Chinese Tajiks singing in Tajiki (essentially akin to Persian) – kindly consult U-Tube links below:

Chinese-Tajik girl sings a Persian-Tajiki song at China’s Shisu University

Tajikan – Tajiks on Chinese TV from Taj Qurghan of China

Chinese scholars have provided somewhat more accurate information on these Chinese-Tajiks. One example is Dr.’s Du and Yip who note that:

 “Most Tajiks in China speak Tajik…” (Du & Yip, 1993, pp.93).

The accent of this particular Chinese-Tajiki is phonologically similar to those Persian vernaculars seen in Afghanistan, parts of eastern Khorasan and of course Tajikestan.

Iran and China have enjoyed cultural links harking back to late Achaemenid times (400s to 330 BC). Chinese archaeologists unearthed evidence that non-Chinese workers of Iranic origins helped build the terracotta army mausoleum (near the north-west city of Xian). This is the resting place of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, who died more than 2,200 years ago.


The Terracotta Army near the northwest city of Xian which contains (at least) 8,000 life-sized terracotta warriors & horses. It is estimated that up to 700,000 laborers worked on the imperial Tomb.  Chinese archaeologists have discovered that Iranian craftsmen dated to the Achaemenid era worked alongside their local Chinese colleagues to construct these figures.


Emperor Qin Shi Huang who unified China. His legacies include building the foundation of the first Great Wall of China and the great mausoleum bearing the massive terracotta army.

 Professor Tan Jingze, an anthropologist with Fudan University, told the Chinese Xinhua News Agency:

  “One sample has typical DNA features commonly owned by the Parsi [Zoroastrians] the Kurds and the Persians in Iran…”

These finds are highly significant as this  strongly suggests that Iranian craftsmen of the Persepolis tradition were present in Qin China. Earlier studies had suggested that the first Chinese-Iranian contacts had occurred later during Han dynasty (206 BC-220 CE).


Iranian-speaking Tajik women from China. These are mainly clustered in the Karakorum region.

 There are also Tajik-speaking residents in the predominantly Turkic-speaking Uighur region of Xinxiang province of northwest China, especially in the osasis city of Kashgar.

Tajik-speakers from Kashgar.

Shop with Persian script in Kashgar, northwest China.

Further Readings:

Bernstein, W.J. (2009). A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World. Grove Press.

Du, R. & Yip, V.F. (1993). Ethnic Groups in China. Science Press.

Hayashi, R. & Ricketts, R. (1975). The Silk Road and the Sosho-in. Shambhala Publications, Inc.

Saffron. W. (1998). Nationalism and Ethnoregional Identities in China. Routledge Publishers.

United Nations and WAALM School of Cultural Diplomacy


The WAALM – School of Cultural Diplomacy Became an Institutional Member of The Academic Council On The United Nations System – ACUNS. For more information consult the WAALM Diplomacy Journal.

The WAALM School of Cultural Diplomacy for the promotion of international peace, dialogue, learning and inter-cultural communication was recently inaugurated in England. This features five distinct departments with over 20 programs.

For an overview to the organization kindly consult the introductory notes in English (pdf) or in Persian (pdf) as well as the website:



New Course: Persia and World Civilization: A Silent Legacy


Kaveh Farrokh is teaching a new course at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Education Division entitled:

Persia and World Civilization: A Silent Legacy

Course Desciption:

Trace the extent of Persian influence in China, India, Islam and Europe with specific examples such as the city palace of Persepolis and her legacy in Merovingian and Gothic arts; the dress of the Iranian nobility at the time of Darius the Great, and its later appearance among the Germanic Ostrogoths and Polish Szlachta; and Persian miniatures and their influence on Indian and Turkish arts.

UP502F09A 5 Wed, Oct 7-Nov 4, 7-8:30pm; UBC Robson Square. $80, seniors $70, CLS students $120

A Sassanian observatory recently discovered in Gur-City, Fars province, founded by  Ardeshir Babakan (r. 226-241 AD). The city was a major scientific center until the 10th century AD. The abode structure remains in excellent condition and is a masterpiece of Iranian science and engineering.

If you require information on registration and sign-up, please feel free to contact the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division at: (604) 822-1444.