united nations human rights' free & equal

The Vietnamese Declaration of Independence

All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" This immortal statement was made in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America m 1776. In a broader sense, this means: All the peoples on the earth are equal from birth, all the peoples have a right to live, to be happy and free. The Declaration of the French Revolution made in 1791 on the Rights of Man and the Citizen also states: “All men are born free and with equal rights, and must always remain free and have equal rights.” Those are undeniable truths.

Nevertheless, for more than eighty years, the French imperialists, abusing the standard of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, have violated our Fatherland and oppressed our fellow-citizens. They have acted contrary to the ideals of humanity and justice. In the field of politics, they have deprived our people of every democratic liberty. They have enforced inhuman laws; they have set up three distinct political regimes in the North, the Center and the South of Vietnam in order to wreck our national unity and prevent our people from being united. They have built more prisons than schools. They have mercilessly slain our patriots- they have drowned our uprisings in rivers of blood. They have fettered public opinion; they have practised obscurantism against our people. To weaken our race they have forced us to use opium and alcohol. In the fields of economics, they have fleeced us to the backbone, impoverished our people, and devastated our land. They have robbed us of our rice fields, our mines, our forests, and our raw materials. They have monopolised the issuing of bank-notes and the export trade. They have invented numerous unjustifiable taxes and reduced our people, especially our peasantry, to a state of extreme poverty. They have hampered the prospering of our national bourgeoisie; they have mercilessly exploited our workers. In the autumn of 1940, when the Japanese Fascists violated Indochina’s territory to establish new bases in their fight against the Allies, the French imperialists went down on their bended knees and handed over our country to them. Thus, from that date, our people were subjected to the double yoke of the French and the Japanese. Their sufferings and miseries increased. The result was that from the end of last year to the beginning of this year, from Quang Tri province to the North of Vietnam, more than two rnillion of our fellow-citizens died from starvation. On March 9, the French troops were disarmed by the lapanese. The French colonialists either fled or surrendered, showing that not only were they incapable of “protecting” us, but that, in the span of five years, they had twice sold our country to the Japanese. On several occasions before March 9, the Vietminh League urged the French to ally themselves with it against the Japanese. Instead of agreeing to this proposal, the French colonialists so intensified their terrorist activities against the Vietminh members that before fleeing they massacred a great number of our political prisoners detained at Yen Bay and Cao Bang. Not withstanding all this, our fellow-citizens have always manifested toward the French a tolerant and humane attitude. Even after the Japanese putsch of March 1945, the Vietminh League helped many Frenchmen to cross the frontier, rescued some of them from Japanese jails, and protected French lives and property. From the autumn of 1940, our country had in fact ceased to be a French colony and had become a Japanese possession. After the Japanese had surrendered to the Allies, our whole people rose to regain our national sovereignty and to found the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

The truth is that we have wrested our independence from the Japanese and not from the French The French have fled, the Japanese have capitulated, Emperor Bao Dai has abdicated. Our people have broken the chains which for nearly a century have fettered them and have won independence for the Fatherland. Our people at the same time have overthrown the monarchic regime that has reigned supreme for dozens of centuries. In its place has been established the present Democratic Republic. For these reasons, we, members of the Provisional Government, representing the whole Vietnamese people, declare that from now on we break off all relations of a colonial character with France; we repeal all the international obligation that France has so far subscribed to on behalf of Vietnam and we abolish all the special rights the French have unlawfully acquired in our Fatherland.

The whole Vietnamese people, animated by a common purpose, are determined to fight to the bitter end against any attempt by the French colonialists to reconquer their country. We are convinced that the Allied nations which at Tehran and San Francisco have acknowledged the principles of self-determination and equality of nations, will not refuse to acknowledge the independence of Vietnam. A people who have courageously opposed French domination for more than eighty years, a people who have fought side by side with the Allies against the Fascists during these last years, such a people must be free and independent. For these reasons, we, members of the Provisional Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, solemnly declare to the world that Vietnam has the right to be a free and independent country and in fact it is so already. The entire Vietnamese people are determined to mobilise all their physical and mental strength, to sacrifice their lives and property in order to safeguard their independence and liberty. 

President Ho Chi Minh address in Hanoi on 2 September 1945.

Year in Review:

In September the United Nations Free & Equal #Path2Equality crosswalk led global leaders across 1st avenue to the UN Headquarters building during #UNGA.

“I ask those who use religious or cultural arguments to deprive LGBT people of their human rights: what do you gain by making others less equal? Is your religion or culture so weak that the only way you can sustain it is by denying others their basic rights?” – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaking at the High-level side event of the LGBT Core Group.

Photo: UN Spokesperson

“I staunchly oppose the criminalization of homosexuality.
I speak out because laws criminalizing consensual, adult same-sex relationships violate basic rights to privacy and to freedom from discrimination.
Even if they are not enforced, these laws breed intolerance.
I am very grateful to the Bollywood celebrities who have joined the United Nations Free & Equal campaign, especially Celina Jaitly and Imran Khan. They have reached millions of people with a message of equality.”

We are human beings because “human” is not something to be achieved, but a state of being. We do not become more or less human with time. We are human, and as humans we get older, bigger, stronger. We develop skills and relationships. None of these things change the fact that what we are, what we have been from the beginning, is a human being.

That is why we call human rights by that name. Rights are not earned or achieved. They are not the trophies of the strong and able and successful, nor the property of the wanted or the loved. Rights belong to all humans equally. They are tied directly to our essence, our state of being that does not change from the moment our life begins to the moment it ends.

If they were earned or granted, they would not be rights. They would be the privileges of the privileged and the wages of the successful. They would not protect the weak, the vulnerable, or the oppressed. They would be, in essence, useless.

The strong, the clever, the loved, and the successful do not need rights. They are able to protect themselves or be protected by those who have a vested interest in their well-being. Those who need rights are those who cannot protect themselves and have no one willing or able to protect them.

Thus, the moment we allow some humans to sit in judgement over whether other humans do or do not have rights, we cease to understand what rights are and we threaten the rights of all humans.

Human rights are inalienable — they are neither granted by humans nor taken away by humans. They are either respected or trampled.

A society that respects the human rights of all humans and makes no attempt to decide which humans deserve rights and which humans don’t is a society that promotes true justice, true liberty, and true equality.

A society that sits in judgment over which humans do and don’t deserve human rights has no right to claim justice, liberty, or equality. It does not matter how vulnerable, defenseless, unloved, or inconvenient the human is. To deny human rights to any human is to commit injustice, suppress liberty, and promote inequality.

Science tells us in no uncertain terms when the life of an individual human begins. Conception. The fusion of egg and sperm creates a living organism that is undeniably human. That organism is produced from two humans. That organism has human DNA. That organism is alive and growing before the mother knows she’s pregnant.

Science cannot determine morality. It can only tell us what is, what isn’t, and what might be possible.

If, then, we can accept as a society that all humans have human rights, and that no human has the right or authority to deny the rights of another human, and if science tells us that the preborn are undeniably human, we cannot pretend any longer that we, as the United States of America, are not actively engaged in the violation of human rights. We are actively undermining justice, liberty, and equality at a rate of nearly 3,000 human lives per day.

Equality, liberty, and justice are only achieved when human rights are not qualified. Only when all humans have their human rights respected and upheld can we claim to be a free, just, and equal nation.

The question is: do we want liberty, justice, and equality, or do we want to give some humans the authority to decide the rights of others?