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Back to index Major Human Rights Documents of Mankind

Major Human Rights Documents of Mankind
Persia (Cyrus), U.S.A., France
Lawrence of Persia (LOP)
shiite_head@yahoo.com

Index

Introduction
Cyrus Cylinder
Virginia Declaration of Rights
U.S. Declaration of Independence
U.S. Bill of Rights
French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen
Thomas Paine's Observations on the Declaration of Rights
A question for Iranian Muslims
Suggested Exercises
Conclusion

Introduction

My purpose in compiling this article is to make the ideas and concepts expressed in the fundamental human rights documents of mankind easily accessible and useful. I did it especially for the young Iranians on whom will fall most of the burdens of ending the Islamist regime in their country and replacing it with something that better meets their aspirations.
More power to them.

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Cyrus Cylinder

Cyrus the Great of Persia completed his conquest of the Chaldaean empire of Babylonia in 538 BC. He treated his new subjects with enlightened tolerance and respect. This is recorded in cuneiform script on a clay cylinder from that time that is known as the Cyrus Cylinder. The original Cylinder is housed at the British Museum. A replica has a place of honor at the United Nations Building in New York City.

" I am Cyrus, king of the world, great king, mighty king, king of Babylon, king of the land of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters ..."

Sovereignty resided in the person of the king. Cyrus's subjects were very fortunate that he was such an enlightened and benevolent king. In many other times and places people were not so lucky.

"... whose rule Bel and Nabu cherish, whose kingship they desire for their hearts' pleasures."

Cyrus claimed to have the approval of the Babylonian gods Bel (also known as Marduk) and his son Nabu. He did not try and impose his Persian god(s) on the Babylonians.

"Marduk, the great God, caused the big-hearted inhabitants of Babylon to...me. I sought daily to worship him."

Cyrus, the recent conqueror of Babylonia, honored and worshipped Marduk who as city god of Babylon was king of the gods of Babylonia.

"I did not allow any to terrorize the land of Sumer and Akkad. I kept in view the needs of Babylon and all its sanctuaries to promote their well being. The citizens of Babylon... I lifted their unbecoming yoke. Their dilapidated dwellings I restored. I put an end to their misfortunes."

Cyrus did not allow his army to plunder and loot the newly conquered country. He promoted the welfare of his new Babylonian subjects and supported their religious temples (sanctuaries).

"From ... to the cities of Ashur and Susa, Agade, Eshnuna, the cities of Zamban, Meurnu, Der, as far as the region of the land of Gutium, the holy cities beyond the Tigris whose sanctuaries had been in ruins over a long period, the Gods whose abode is in the midst of them. I returned to the places and housed them in lasting abodes ... The Gods of Sumer and Akkad whom Nabonidus had, to the anger of the Lord of the Gods, brought into Babylon, I at the bidding of Marduk, the great Lord, made to dwell in peace in their habitations, delightful abodes."

During their conquests the Babylonians had destroyed the temples of people whom they defeated and had brought the idols (gods) to Babylon. Cyrus restored these ruined temples and returned the idols to them.

"I gathered together all their inhabitants and restored to them their dwellings."

The Babylonians had enslaved many conquered peoples. Cyrus freed them, sent them home and helped them to rebuild. In 537 BC he allowed more than 40,000 Jews to leave Babylon and return to Palestine.

Complete and accurate translation of text on the Cyrus Cylinder:
The Cyrus Cylinder

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Virginia Declaration of Rights

Written by George Mason, the Virginia Declaration of Rights was adopted by the Virginia Constitutional Convention on June 12, 1776, 22 days before the U.S Declaration of Independence. It strongly influenced Thomas Jefferson in writing the first part of the Declaration of Independence and later provided the foundation for the U.S. Bill of Rights.

Section 1 states that all men are by nature equally free and have certain inherent rights that they cannot give up.

Section 2 states that all judicial and government power is vested in and derived from the people.

Section 3 states that the purpose of government is to promote the common interests of the people and that the people have an absolute right to reform or abolish any government that fails to follow this purpose.

Thinkers and writers of the European Enlightenment had recently introduced these important new concepts: that sovereignty resides in the people and is delegated by them to their government. Sovereignty does not reside in the government or the king.

Section 16 states that all men are entitled to the free exercise of religion based on their reason and conviction and should not be subjected to religious coercion by force or violence.

Virginia Declaration of Rights
Full Text

A DECLARATION OF RIGHTS made by the representatives of the good people of Virginia, assembled in full and free convention which rights do pertain to them and their posterity, as the basis and foundation of government .

Section 1. That all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

Section 2. That all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people; that magistrates are their trustees and servants and at all times amenable to them.

Section 3. That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community; of all the various modes and forms of government, that is best which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety and is most effectually secured against the danger of maladministration. And that, when any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community has an indubitable, inalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.

Section 4. That no man, or set of men, is entitled to exclusive or separate emoluments or privileges from the community, but in consideration of public services; which, nor being descendible, neither ought the offices of magistrate, legislator, or judge to be hereditary.

Section 5. That the legislative and executive powers of the state should be separate and distinct from the judiciary; and that the members of the two first may be restrained from oppression, by feeling and participating the burdens of the people, they should, at fixed periods, be reduced to a private station, return into that body from which they were originally taken, and the vacancies be supplied by frequent, certain, and regular elections, in which all, or any part, of the former members, to be again eligible, or ineligible, as the laws shall direct.

Section 6. That elections of members to serve as representatives of the people, in assembly ought to be free; and that all men, having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with, and attachment to, the community, have the right of suffrage and cannot be taxed or deprived of their property for public uses without their own consent or that of their representatives so elected, nor bound by any law to which they have not, in like manner, assembled for the public good.

Section 7. That all power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, by any authority, without consent of the representatives of the people, is injurious to their rights and ought not to be exercised.

Section 8. That in all capital or criminal prosecutions a man has a right to demand the cause and nature of his accusation, to be confronted with the accusers and witnesses, to call for evidence in his favor, and to a speedy trial by an impartial jury of twelve men of his vicinage, without whose unanimous consent he cannot be found guilty; nor can he be compelled to give evidence against himself; that no man be deprived of his liberty except by the law of the land or the judgment of his peers.

Section 9. That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Section 10. That general warrants, whereby an officer or messenger may be commanded to search suspected places without evidence of a fact committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, or whose offense is not particularly described and supported by evidence, are grievous and oppressive and ought not to be granted.

Section 11. That in controversies respecting property, and in suits between man and man, the ancient trial by jury is preferable to any other and ought to be held sacred.

Section 12. That the freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.

Section 13. That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

Section 14. That the people have a right to uniform government; and, therefore, that no government separate from or independent of the government of Virginia ought to be erected or established within the limits thereof.

Section 15. That no free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

Section 16. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practise Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.

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U.S. Declaration of Independence

The U.S. Declaration of Independence was drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776 and was adopted by the U.S Continental Congress in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.

Below is the second paragraph of the Declaration. I have broken the paragraph up to make it more easily readable.

Preamble of the U.S. Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

· That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

· That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

· Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

· But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

· Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

U.S. Declaration of Independence
Full Text

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. - Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. - And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

- John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

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U.S. Bill of Rights

During the debates on the adoption of the Constitution, its opponents repeatedly charged that the Constitution as drafted would open the way to tyranny by the central government. Fresh in their minds was the memory of the British violation of civil rights before and during the Revolution. They demanded a "bill of rights" that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens.

When James Madison drafted the amendments to the Constitution that were to become the Bill of Rights, he drew heavily upon the ideas put forth in the Virginia Declaration of Rights.

On September 25, 1789, the First Congress of the United States adopted and proposed to the state legislatures 12 amendments to the Constitution. The first two amendments were not ratified. Articles 3 to 12 however were ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures by December 15, 1791. These first 10 amendments of the Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights.

The First Amendment enshrines freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

The Tenth Amendment affirms the principle that the Constitution delegates certain powers to the United States Government by the people and by the individual States. It does not grant rights and freedoms to the people by the U.S. Government. These rights and freedoms of the people are senior to and are in fact the sources of the authority of the U.S. Government.

U.S. Bill of Rights
Full Text

THE BILL OF RIGHTS
Amendments 1-10 of the Constitution

The Conventions of a number of the States having, at the time of adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added, and as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution;

Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two-thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States; all or any of which articles, when ratified by three-fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the said Constitution, namely:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

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French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen

The National Assembly of France adopted this Declaration on 26 August 1789, 30 days before the First Congress of the United States adopted the U.S. Bill of Rights and sent it to the state legislatures. Thomas Jefferson was the U.S. Ambassador to France at that time. Some of the French Assemblymen who worked on the Declaration consulted with him.

Article 10 affirms freedom of opinion, including religious opinion.

Article 11 upholds freedom of speech.

Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (France)
Full Text

The French people, as represented at the National Assembly, consider that ignorance, disregard or contempt of human rights are the sole causes of the nation's misfortunes and of the corruption of Government. So they have resolved to state the natural, inalienable and sacred human rights in a solemn Declaration. This Declaration is to be a constant reminder to the members of the body politic of their rights and their duties. The actions of the legislative and those of the executive power may be compared at any time with the aim of all political institutions. This should cause these actions to be more respectful of that aim. The claims of the citizens, based henceforth on simple and indisputable principles, should always be turned towards upholding the Constitution and the common good.

For these reasons, the National Assembly acknowledges and declares in the presence of and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights of man and citizen.

Articles:
1. Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good.

2. The aim of all political associations is to preserve man's natural and sacred rights. These are the right to freedom, property, safety and the right to resist oppression.

3. The Nation is essentially the source of all sovereignty. No group or individual may exercise any authority that does not proceed directly from the Nation.

4. Freedom is the power to do anything which does not harm another. The only limits to the exercise of each person's natural rights are those which ensure that the other members of the community enjoy those same rights. Only legislation only may set these limits.

5. Only actions harmful to the community may be made illegal. No-one may be prevented from doing that which the law does not forbid, nor be forced to do that which the law does not command.

6. Legislation expresses the will of the community. Every citizen has a right to participate personally, or through his representative, in its foundation. Legislation must be the same for all, whether it protects or to punishes. As all citizens are equal in the eye of the law, positions of high rank, public office and employment are open to all on an equal basis according to ability and without any distinction other than that based on their merit and skill.

7. A person may be accused, arrested or detained only in the cases specified by law and in accordance with the procedures which the law provides. Any one soliciting, transmitting, executing, or causing to be executed, any arbitrary order, shall be punished. But any citizen summoned or arrested pursuant to the law shall obey at once, as resistance to the law is an offense.

8. Only penalties which are strictly and clearly necessary may be established by law, and no-one may be punished other than pursuant to a law established and enacted prior to the offence, and applied lawfully.

9. As all persons are presumed innocent until declared guilty, force used in making indispensable arrests which exceeds that needed, shall be severely punished by law.

10. No-one may be troubled due to his opinions, whether or not they are on religious issues provided that the expression of these opinions does not disturb the peace.

11. Free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious human rights. All citizens may therefore speak, write and print freely, though they may be required to answer for abusing this right in cases specified by law.

12. The protection of the rights of man and the citizen requires a police force. And so this force is established for the benefit of the community, and not for the particular benefit of the persons with whom it is entrusted.

13. The maintenance of the police force and administration expenses require public contributions. These contributions are to be borne by the citizens equally according to their resources.

14. All citizens have the right, either in person or through their representatives, to ascertain the need for the public contributions, to freely authorize these contributions, to monitor their use, and to determine the amount, basis, collection and duration of contributions.

15. The community has the right to ask any public officer to account for his service.

16. Any society in which (human) rights are not guaranteed, nor the scope of (government) power determined, has no Constitution.

17. The right of ownership is an inviolable and sacred right. One may not be deprived of one's property, unless where public need, duly ascertained by law, clearly requires it, and subject to the condition that fair and prior compensation be made.

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Thomas Paine's Observations on the Declaration of Rights
Observations on the Declaration of Rights

The three first articles comprehend in general terms, the whole of a Declaration of Rights: All the succeeding articles either originate from them, or follow as elucidations. The 4th, 5th, and 6th, define more particularly what is only generally expressed in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.

The 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th articles, are declaratory of principles upon which laws shall be constructed, conformable to rights already declared. But it is questioned by some very good people in France, as well as in other countries, whether the 10th article sufficiently guarantees the right it is intended to accord with: besides which, it takes off from the divine dignity of religion, and weakens its operative force upon the mind, to make it a subject of human laws. It then presents itself to Man, like light intercepted by a cloudy medium, in which the source of it is obscured from his sight, and he sees nothing to reverence in the dusky ray.

The remaining articles, beginning with the twelfth, are substantially contained in the principles of the preceding articles; but, in the particular situation which France then was, having to undo what was wrong, as well as to set up what was right, it was proper to be more particular than what in another condition of things would be necessary.

While the Declaration of Rights was before the National Assembly, some of its members remarked, that if a Declaration of Rights was published, it should be accompanied by a Declaration of Duties. The observation discovered a mind that reflected, and it only erred by not reflecting far enough. A Declaration of Rights is, by reciprocity, a Declaration of Duties also. Whatever is my right as a man, is also the right of another; and it becomes my duty to guarantee, as well as to possess.

The three first articles are the basis of Liberty, as well individual as national; nor can any country be called free, whose government does not take its beginning from the principles they contain, and continue to preserve them pure; and the whole of the Declaration of Rights is of more value to the world, and will do more good, than all the laws and statutes that have yet been promulgated.

In the declaratory exordium which prefaces the Declaration of Rights, we see the solemn and majestic spectacle of a Nation opening its commission, under the auspices of its Creator, to establish a Government; a scene so new, and so transcendently unequalled by anything in the European world, that the name of a Revolution is diminutive of its character, and it rises into a Regeneration of man. What are the present Governments of Europe, but a scene of iniquity and oppression? What is that of England? Do not its own inhabitants say, It is a market where every man has his price, and where corruption is common traffic, at the expense of a deluded people? No wonder, then, that the French Revolution is traduced. Had it confined itself merely to the destruction of flagrant despotism, perhaps Mr Burke and some others had been silent. Their cry now is, 'It has gone too far:' that is, it has gone too far for them. It stares corruption in the face, and the venal tribe are all alarmed. Their fear discovers itself in their outrage, and they are but publishing the groans of a wounded vice. But from such opposition, the French Revolution, instead of suffering, receives an homage. The more it is struck, the more sparks it will emit; and the fear is, it will not be struck enough. It has nothing to dread from attacks: Truth has given it an establishment; and Time will record it with a name as lasting as his own.

Having now traced the progress of the French Revolution through most of its principal stages, from its commencement, to the taking of the Bastille, and its establishment by the Declaration of Rights, I will close the subject with the energetic apostrophe of M. de Lafayette - May this great monument raised to Liberty, serve as a lesson to the oppressor, and an example to the oppressed!Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.

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A question for Iranian Muslims

The foundation of the modern concept of human rights is that these rights are sacred and senior to any government authority. In fact the people delegate power to the government and the purpose of government is to promote the common interests of the people.

In other words, sovereignty resides in the people and the proper function of government is to serve the people.

Democracy was implemented in the U.S., and later in European and other countries, for the very purpose of upholding, defending and safeguarding the human rights of the people.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is founded on the premise that sovereignty resides in Allah. Allah delegates power to the clergy, the Olama, and the Olama appoint the Rahbar. So the proper function of the Rahbar is to rule the people and the proper function of the people is to serve and obey the Rahbar.

This is similar to the concept of the "divine right of kings" that prevailed in Europe up until the 1700s and the Rahbar is in a way a Priest-King, a Caliph.

The view of the world that Islamic authority must rule every political, legal and social aspect of all peoples lives is called Islamism and people who think this way are called Islamists.

All Islamists are Muslims. Not all Muslims are necessarily Islamists

The foundation of human rights and democracy is completely different to the foundation of Islamism.

Islamism is completely incompatible with human rights and democracy. Islamic democracy has never existed, does not exist and never will exist. Islamic democracy is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms.

So if you are a Muslim then you need to decide: are you also an Islamist?

If you are an Islamist then human rights and democracy are not for you.

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Suggested Exercises

For each of the Major Human Rights Documents of Mankind:

For each sentence, Section or Article of the document:

Make sure that you clearly understand the sentence/Section/Article. Look up any words that are not clear to you.

Decide whether you agree or disagree with the sentence/Section/Article.

If you agree then decide what, if any, relevance the concepts in the sentence/Section/Article may have for your country:

· How does your country measure up right now?

· How might your country be improved in the future?

After going through each sentence/Section/Article of the document then decide what, if any, relevance the concepts in the the document as a whole may have for your country:

· How does your country measure up right now?

· How might your country be improved in the future?

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Conclusion

Let me close with Article 16 of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen:

"Any society in which (human) rights are not guaranteed, nor the scope of (government) power determined, has no Constitution."

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