Human Rights, Not Human Privileges

Human Rights, Not Human Privileges                                                                             By Samantha Jonas-Rongo

            ” As a proud and honored American citizen, I have a question, for the C.I.A; “What makes a person unique enough to be an individual?” Wait…..I said that backwards!  “What makes an individual, human enough to be considered human?” …..Samantha Jonas-Rongo

I’m proud to be an American. On this land, we have opportunity and ability to have a bright future no matter how dark our days were early on in life.

We are the country of the proud and free aren’t we? We flaunt that in our national songs, and make it our duty to pass them on from generation to generation. We stand so very tall and proud with our hands over our hearts in honor of those many lost in our great wars and for those who will stand tall in the future. We expect our children to rise this great nation higher than the last generation has done and we allow our children the ability and tools to do so. That is our rights as humans rights? Or is it only as Americans?

Originally, people had rights only because of their membership in a group, such as a family. Then, in 539 BC, Cyrus the Great, after conquering the city of Babylon, freed all slaves to return home. He then declared that people should choose their own religion. The first human rights declaration in history was a clay tablet containing his statements. It’s name is “The Cyrus Cylinder”

The concept of human rights spread quickly to Greece, India and eventually Rome. The most important advances since have included:

  • The Magna Carta 1215—gave people new rights and made the king subject to the law.
  • The Petition of Right 1628—set out the rights of the people.
  • The United States Declaration of Independence 1776—proclaimed the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
  • The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen 1789—a document of France, stating that all citizens are equal under the law.
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948—the first document listing the 30 rights to which everyone is entitled.

Every person is entitled to certain fundamental rights, simply due to being human. These are called “human rights”, not “human privileges” (which can be taken away at another’s whim). They are “rights” because they are things we are allowed to be, to do or to have. These rights are there for our protection against people who might want to harm or hurt us. They are also there to help us get along with each other and live in peace.

When human rights are not well-known by people, abuses such as discrimination, intolerance, injustice, oppression and slavery can arise.

The United Nations (UN) came into being in 1945, shortly after the end of World War II.

The stated purpose of the UN is to bring peace to all nations of the world. After World War II, a committee of persons headed by Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, wrote a special document which “declares” the rights that everyone in the entire world should have—the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today there are 192 member states of the UN, all of whom have signed on in agreement with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I am aware of this knowledge from the free high school education that I have received and unlike many of the detainees in Guantanamo and other prisons monitored by the C.I.A, I know about these agreements and rights I have as a human. They were taught to me as a child and they are the laws of this land we live on. Those detainees aren’t as fortunate to have received the same education or live in democracy that many others took for granted in this country.

Question and interrogate with self respect even if you have no respect for the one in question. Doesn’t your morals remind you what was inappropriate and out of line? How can you forget that those detainees are humans as well? Some of those men are innocent, why the change of heart? Why the discrimination and face value judgment again after all this country for? Don’t we have to live up to the standards and titles we gave ourselves? When these men leave and return home, they will leave with more hatred for our country than they had, or they will leave with a new hatred that they didn’t have before.

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

1. We Are All Born Free & Equal. We are all born free. We all have our own thoughts and ideas. We should all be treated in the same way.

2. Don’t Discriminate. These rights belong to everybody, whatever our differences.

3. The Right to Life. We all have the right to life, and to live in freedom and safety.

4. No Slavery. Nobody has any right to make us a slave. We cannot make anyone our slave.

5. No Torture. Nobody has any right to hurt us or to torture us.

6. You Have Rights No Matter Where You Go. I am a person just like you!

7. We’re All Equal Before the Law. The law is the same for everyone. It must treat us all fairly.

8. Your Human Rights Are Protected by Law. We can all ask for the law to help us when we are not treated fairly.

9. No Unfair Detainment. Nobody has the right to put us in prison without good reason and keep us there, or to send us away from our country.

10. The Right to Trial. If we are put on trial this should be in public. The people who try us should not let anyone tell them what to do.

11. We’re Always Innocent Till Proven Guilty. Nobody should be blamed for doing something until it is proven. When people say we did a bad thing we have the right to show it is not true.

12. The Right to Privacy. Nobody should try to harm our good name. Nobody has the right to come into our home, open our letters, or bother us or our family without a good reason.

13. Freedom to Move. We all have the right to go where we want in our own country and to travel as we wish.

14. The Right to Seek a Safe Place to Live. If we are frightened of being badly treated in our own country, we all have the right to run away to another country to be safe.

15. Right to a Nationality. We all have the right to belong to a country.

16. Marriage and Family. Every grown-up has the right to marry and have a family if they want to. Men and women have the same rights when they are married, and when they are separated.

17. The Right to Your Own Things. Everyone has the right to own things or share them. Nobody should take our things from us without a good reason.

18. Freedom of Thought. We all have the right to believe in what we want to believe, to have a religion, or to change it if we want.

19. Freedom of Expression. We all have the right to make up our own minds, to think what we like, to say what we think, and to share our ideas with other people.

20. The Right to Public Assembly. We all have the right to meet our friends and to work together in peace to defend our rights. Nobody can make us join a group if we don’t want to.

21. The Right to Democracy. We all have the right to take part in the government of our country. Every grown-up should be allowed to choose their own leaders.

22. Social Security. We all have the right to affordable housing, medicine, education, and childcare, enough money to live on and medical help if we are ill or old.

23. Workers’ Rights. Every grown-up has the right to do a job, to a fair wage for their work, and to join a trade union.

24. The Right to Play. We all have the right to rest from work and to relax.

25. Food and Shelter for All. We all have the right to a good life. Mothers and children, people who are old, unemployed or disabled, and all people have the right to be cared for.

26. The Right to Education. Education is a right. Primary school should be free. We should learn about the United Nations and how to get on with others. Our parents can choose what we learn.

27. Copyright. Copyright is a special law that protects one’s own artistic creations and writings; others cannot make copies without permission. We all have the right to our own way of life and to enjoy the good things that art, science and learning bring.

28. A Fair and Free World. There must be proper order so we can all enjoy rights and freedoms in our own country and all over the world.

29. Responsibility. We have a duty to other people, and we should protect their rights and freedoms.

30. No One Can Take Away Your Human Rights.


Samantha Jonas-Rongo


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