Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 942) recognizing the centennial anniversary on August 5, 2006, of the Iranian constitution of 1906.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the resolution under consideration.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I rise in strong support of H. Res. 942 introduced by my friend, my colleague Mr. King from Iowa. H. Res. 942, Madam Speaker, recognizes the centennial anniversary on August 5 of the Iranian Constitution of 1906.
The resolution acknowledges the democratic revolution of the Iranian people going back 100 years. It notes the democratic political system created from this movement, with clearly defined separation of powers. Finally, the resolution expresses the hope that the people of Iran will be inspired by their democratic history and once again enjoy democratic rule.
You might be surprised to learn that Persia was the first country in the Middle East to introduce a constitution and create a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament and popular sovereignty in 1906. The then-Shah signed the electoral law and the fundamental law of Persia that established an independent legislature and an independent judiciary.
While the constitutionalist movement was temporarily undermined in 1908 during the reign of Mohammed Ali Shah Qajar, it was later rescued by the reign of his son.
The ideals of the constitutional revolution were abolished with the demise of the dynasty and the rise of an absolute monarchy in 1925, and then with the Iranian revolution in 1979.
Madam Speaker, this resolution is an opportunity for the American people to send a positive message to the Iranian people about their indigenous democratic tradition. We hope that this tradition will be an inspiration for the Iranian people as they seek to increase their political freedoms.
I strongly support the passage of this resolution. I thank Mr. King for introducing it.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. LANTOS. Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of this resolution, and I yield myself such time as I might consume.
I want to congratulate my friend and distinguished colleague from Iowa, Congressman King, for introducing this important resolution commemorating Iran's democratic revolution of 1906. I want equally to congratulate my friend and committee colleague, Mr. Blumenauer, who introduced the resolution on the very same topic at virtually the same time.
The issues raised by the King and Blumenauer resolutions are both simple and complex. On the one hand, it is important simply that we commemorate the events of 1906, a popular uprising that led to the drafting of a constitution brimming with democratic guarantees.
Indeed, this was a heady time for tens of thousands of Iranian liberals, as the writings of the esteemed contemporary British scholar Edward G. Browne make abundantly clear.
Recalling these events reminds us that the yearning of the people of the Middle East for democracy has a long and storied history. In fact, there were other significant manifestations of democratic sentiment in the Middle East in the late 19th and early 20th centuries including both in Egypt and in the Ottoman Empire.
At the same time, we cannot help but acknowledge that the high hopes of the 1906 Constitutional Revolution were quickly dashed on the shoals of reactionary resistance, foreign interference, and the lack of unity among the constitutionalists. Iran has gone through many permutations since 1906, but it has experienced very little democracy.
Today's Iran is a far cry from that envisioned by the revolutionaries and constitution writers of a century ago. The Iran of today is an authoritarian, intolerant, theocratic regime in which ultimate authority rests with the clergy, and a minority of clergymen at that.
There are elections and there is a parliament in Iran, but candidates must first be approved by an unelected clergy. The democratic promise that Iranians set out for themselves in 1906 remains unfulfilled, but it is not forgotten. It stands as a beacon of democratic hope for Iran and for others throughout the Middle East.
At a time when we have committed our resources to supporting the emergence of a liberal, tolerant Middle East, it is very appropriate that we recall one of the earliest efforts in that region to establish a constitutional democratic regime. And we honor those Iranians who struggled for positive change. That is why I support this resolution and urge all of my colleagues to do likewise.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. I am so pleased to yield 5 minutes to the gentleman [Page: H6682]
from Iowa (Mr. King), the prime sponsor and author of the resolution.
Mr. KING of Iowa. I thank the gentlewoman from Florida for yielding and for her leadership on this important issue. And I also thank the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos) for his support for this resolution and for his leadership on many of these foreign relation issues that we have.
I am very pleased to be here on the floor today, Madam Speaker, to address this issue; and I rise in support of H. Res. 942 to recognize the 100th anniversary of the Iranian constitutional revolution.
The current totalitarian regime of the ayatollahs presents a threat to world peace. It is important to recognize that Iranian history contains within itself the evidence of internal representative constitutional aspirations which would free the Iranian people of oppressive tyranny.
In 1906, the people of Iran brought about a peaceful constitutional revolution to limit the autocratic power of a corrupt regime. As such, it was among the most significant turning points in Iranian history; it and resulted in the establishment of an elected parliament, the Majles, and the creation of a representative system of government, including checks and balances and the separation of powers.
While the constitution that was ultimately drafted as a result of the revolution was never fully implemented in Iran, it presents the Iranian people with an important starting point in their present-day struggle to overcome the tyranny of the ayatollahs.
Much like the situation that we currently see in Iran, before the revolution in 1906 Iran was ruled harshly by leaders who did not have to respond to the will of the people. As the people of Iran watched their leaders squander away their nation's land and resources, they were emboldened by the democratic revolutions that were at that time sweeping through Europe and Latin American. The people of Iran saw what was happening in other countries and demanded similar reforms. Just as today's Iranians
see their needs overlooked in their leaders' attempts to hasten the coming of a worldwide radical Islamic state, the destruction of the assets of Iran before the 1906 revolution resulted in widespread poverty, food shortages and plague, though the rulers demonstrated no obligation to relieve the needs of the people.
After years of agitation and a number of failed attempts to bring about representative constitutional reforms in cooperation with Iran's rulers, the reformists chose nonviolent means to establish their demands. Early in 1906, some 16,000 Iranians gathered in the mosques and the public places of Tehran, organized camps, commissaries, and sanitation facilities and established order; and they simply stayed there. In modern terms, it was a giant sit-in that lasted for weeks. And on August 5, 1906,
Mozafareddin Shah signed a decree authorizing the creation of a freely elected Majles which was the first task of writing a permanent constitution. The constitution that was created was a modern representative document created upon the model of the Belgian Constitution that met all the requirements of the four demands of the revolutionary democratic movement.
The establishment of an independent judiciary was one. The second was establishment of an independent legislature, with members directly elected by the people. The third was a socio-political progress, including the separation of religion from the affairs of government. I will repeat, the separation of religion. The fourth was a commitment of the government to the territorial integrity of Iran. And in 1907, in one of the most unfortunate events of the Iranian history, Mozafareddin Shah died,
and with him died the full implementation of the representative constitution.
Nevertheless, the 1906 constitution has always served as a beacon of liberty for those striving for freedom in Iran. All people on the face of the Earth ought to have the right to live under a constitutionally prescribed government that is representative and responsive to the will of the people. The 1906 Constitution of Iran provides the people of Iran with a blueprint for constitutional government that is a product of their culture and their needs. It has demonstrated that Iranians could come
together, using their own resources and their own traditions, to create a liberal representative constitutional state. And even though a corrupt dictatorial reactionary regime has ruled in Iran since 1979, the 1906 Iranian Constitution inspires hope for a free Iran today.
Madam Speaker, I hope the recognition contained in this bill can help inspire Iranians to rise up and expel their country's dictators. Given the current threat the Iranian regime poses to global security today, the whole world should join in supporting and encouraging the Iranian people's fight for freedom and constitutional representation.
I ask my colleagues for support of this important legislation and pray for the day that all of God's children live in freedom and liberty.
Draft 1906 Iran Constitution
In the Name of God the Merciful, the Forgiving.
WHEREAS in accordance with the Imperial edict dated the fourteenth of Jumada althani, A.H. 1324 (=August 5, 1906), a decree was issued for the establishment of a National Consultative Assembly, to promote the progress and happiness of our Kingdom and people, strengthen the foundations of our Government and give effect to the enactments of the Sacred Law of His Holiness the Prophet,
AND WHEREAS, by virtue of the fundamental principle (therein laid down), we have conferred on each individual of the people of our realm, for the amending and superintending of the affairs of the common-wealth, according to their degrees, the right to participate in choosing and appointing the Members of this Assembly by popular election,
THEREFORE the National Consultative Assembly is now opened, in accordance with our Sacred Command; and we do define as follows the principles and articles of the Constitutional Law regulating the aforesaid National Consultative Assembly, which Law comprises the duties and functions of the above-mentioned Assembly, its limitations, and its relations with the various ministries of the country.
On the Constitution of the Assembly.
Article 1--The national consultative assembly is founded and established in accordance with the Imperial edict of the fourteenth of the Jumada al-thani, A.H. 1324 (August 5, 1906).
Article 2--The National Consultative Assembly represents the whole of the people of Iran, who (thus) participate in the economic and political affairs of the country.
Article 3--The National Consultative Assembly shall consist of the members elected in Tehran and the provinces, and shall be held in Tehran.
Article 4--The number of elected members of the national consultative assembly has been fixed, in accordance with the electoral law, separately promulgated, at one hundred and sixty-two, but in case of necessity the number of the members may be increased to two hundred.
Article 5--The members of the national consultative assembly shall be elected for two whole years. This period shall begin on the day when all the representatives from the provinces have arrived in Tehran. On the conclusion of this period or two years, new representatives shall be elected, but the people shall have the option of re-electing any of their former representatives whom they wish and with whom they are satisfied.
Article 6--The members of the national consultative assembly who have been elected to represent Tehran shall, as soon as they meet, have the right to convene the national consultative assembly and to begin their discussions and deliberations. During the period preceding the arrival of the provincial delegates, their decisions shall depend for their validity and due execution on the majority (by which they are carried).
Article 7--On the opening of the debates, at least two thirds of the members of the national consultative assembly shall be present, and, when the vote is taken at least three quarters. A majority shall be obtained only when more than half of those present in the Assembly record their votes.
Article 8--The periods of session and recess of the national consultative assembly shall be determined by the assembly itself, in accordance with such internal regulations as itself shall formulate. After the summer recess, the national consultative assembly must continue open and remain in session from the fourteenth day of the month of Mehr (Oct. 6th), which corresponds with the anniversary of the opening day of the first assembly.
Article 9--The national consultative assembly can sit on occasions of extraordinary public holidays.
Article 10--On the opening day of the national consultative assembly, an address shall be presented by it to His Imperial Majesty, and it shall afterwards have the honor of receiving an answer from that Royal and August quarter.
Article 11--Members of the national consultative assembly, on taking their seats, shall take and subscribe to the following form of oath:
(Form of the Oath.)
``We the undersigned take God to witness, and swear on the Qur'an, that, so long as the rights of the national consultative assembly [Page: H6683]
and its members are observed and respected, in conformity with these regulations, we will, so far as possible, discharge, with the utmost truth, uprightness, diligence and endeavor, the duties confided to us; that we will act loyally and truthfully towards our just and honored sovereign, commit no treason in respect of
either the foundations of the throne or the rights of the people, and will consider only the advantage and well-being of the people and the country of Iran.''
Article 12--No one, on any pretext or excuse, shall have any right, without the knowledge and approval of the national consultative assembly, to molest its members. Even in case of the members committing some crime or misdemeanor, and being arrested flagrante delicto, any punishment inflicted upon him must be with the cognizance of the national consultative assembly.
Article 13--The deliberations of the national consultative assembly, in order that effect may be given to their results, must be public. According to the internal regulations of the assembly, journalists and spectators have the right to be present and listen, but not to speak. Newspapers may print and publish all the debates of the assembly, provided they do not change or pervert their meaning, so that the public may be informed of the subjects of discussion and the detail of what takes place.
Everyone, subject to his playing due regard to the public good, may discuss them in the public press, so that no matter may be veiled or hidden from any person. Therefore all newspapers, provided that their contents are not injurious to any one of the fundamental principles of the government or the nation, are authorized and allowed to print and publish all matters advantageous to
the public interest, such as the debates of the assembly, and the opinions of the people on these debates. But if anyone, actuated by interested motives, shall print in the newspapers or in other publications anything contrary to what has been mentioned, or inspired by slander or calumny, he will render himself liable to cross-examination, judgment and punishment, according to law.
Article 14--The national consultative assembly shall organize and arrange, in accordance with separate and distinct regulations called the Internal Code of Rules, its own affairs, such as the election of a president, vice-presidents, secretaries, and other officers, the arrangements of the debates and formation of committees, etc.
Duties of the Assembly, its Rights and its Limitations.
Article 15--The national consultative assembly has the right in all matters and issues to propose any bill which it regards as conducive to the well-being of the government and the people, after due discussion and deliberation thereof in all sincerity and truth; and, having due regard to the majority of votes, to submit such bill, in complete confidence of safety and security, after it has received the approval of the senate, by means of the Prime Minister of the country, so that it may receive
the Royal Approval and be duly carried out.
Article 16--All laws necessary to strengthen the foundations of the country and throne and to set in order the affairs of the realm and the establishment of the ministries must be ratified by the national consultative assembly.
Article 17--The national consultative assembly shall, when occasion arises, bring forward such bills as shall be necessary for the creation, modification, completion or abrogation of any law, and, subject to the ratification by the senate, shall submit it for the royal sanction, so that due effect may thereafter be given to it.
Article 18--The regulation of all financial matters, the construction and regulation of the budget, all changes in fiscal arrangements, the acceptance or rejection of all incidental and subordinate expenditure, as also the new inspectorships (of finance) which will be founded by the Government, shall be subject to the approval of the national consultative assembly.
Article 19--The national consultative assembly has the right, after the senate has given its approval, to demand from the ministers that effect shall be given to the bills thus approved for the reform of the finances and the facilitation of co-operation between the different departments of the Government by division of the departments and provinces of Iran and their respective offices.
Article 20--The budget of each ministry shall be concluded during the latter half of each year for the following year, and shall be ready fifteen days before the festivities of Norooz. (March 21, the Iranian new year)
Article 21--Should it at any time be necessary to introduce, modify or abrogate any bylaws regulating the (functions of the) ministries, such change shall be made only with the approval of the national consultative assembly, irrespective of whether the necessity for such action has been declared by the assembly or enunciated by the responsible ministers.
Article 22--Any proposal to transfer or sell any portion of the national resources, or of the control exercised by the government or the throne, or to effect any change in the boundaries and frontiers of the kingdom, shall be subject to the approval of the national consultative assembly.
Article 23--Without the approval of the national consultative assembly no concession for the formation of any public company of any sort shall, under any plea whatsoever be granted by the government.
Article 24--The conclusion of treaties and covenants, the granting of commercial, industrial, agricultural and other concessions, irrespective of whether they are granted to Iranian or foreign nationals, shall be subject to the approval of the national consultative assembly,
with the exception of treaties which, for reasons of state and the public advantage, must be kept secret.
Article 25--All government and national loans, under whatever title, whether internal or external, must be contracted only with the cognizance and approval of the national consultative assembly.
Article 26--The construction of railroads or chausses, at the expense of the government, or of any company, whether Iranian or foreign, depends on the approval of the assembly.
Article 27--Wherever the assembly observes any defect in the laws, or any neglect in giving effect to them, it shall notify the same to the minister responsible for that department, who shall furnish all necessary explanations.
Article 28--Should any minister, acting under misapprehension, issue on the royal authority, whether in writing or verbal, orders conflicting with one of the laws which have been enacted and have received the royal sanction, he shall admit his negligence and lack of attention, and shall, according to the law, be personally responsible to His Majesty.
Article 29--Should a minister fail to give a satisfactory account of any affair conformable to the laws which have received the royal sanction, and should it appear in his case that a violation of such law has been committed, or that he has transgressed the limits imposed (on him), the assembly shall demand his dismissal from His Majesty, and should his treason be clearly established in a Court of Law, he shall not again be employed in the service of the State.
Article 30--The Assembly shall, at any time when it considers it necessary, have the right to make direct representations to His Majesty by means of a committee consisting of the president of the national consultative assembly and six of its members chosen by the six ranks. This committee must ask permission, and make an appointment for an audience with His Majesty through the Chief of Protocol. (Wazir-i-Darbar).
Article 31--Ministers have the right to be present at the sessions of the national consultative assembly, to sit in the places appointed for them, and to listen to the debates of the assembly. If they consider it necessary, they may ask the President of the assembly for permission to speak, and may give such explanations as may be necessary for purposes of discussion and investigation.
On the Presentation of Issues to the National Consultative Assembly.
Article 32--Any individual may submit in writing to the Petition Department of the Archives of the assembly a statement of his own case, or of any criticisms or complains. If the matter concerns the assembly itself, it will give him a satisfactory answer; but if it concerns one of the ministries, it will refer it to that ministry, which will enquire into the matter and return a sufficient answer.
Article 33--New laws which are needed shall be drafted and revised in the ministries which are respectively responsible, and shall then be laid before the national consultative assembly by the responsible ministers, or by the Prime Minister. After being ratified by the assembly, and signed by His Majesty, they shall be duly put into force.
Article 34--The President of the national consultative assembly can, in case of necessity, either personally, or on the demand often members of the assembly, hold a private conference, consisting of a selected number of members of the national consultative assembly, with any minister, from which private meeting newspaper correspondents and spectators shall be excluded, and at which other members of the assembly shall not have the right to be present. The result of the deliberations of such secret
conference shall, however, only be confirmed when it has been deliberated in the said conference in presence of three quarter those selected (to serve on it), and carried by a majority of votes. Should the proposition (in question) not be accepted in the private conference, it shall not be brought forward in the national consultative assembly, but shall be passed over in silence.
Article 35--If such private conference shall have been held at the demand of the president of the national consultative assembly, he has the right to inform the public of so much of the deliberations as he shall deem expedient; but if the private conference has been held at the demand of a minister, the disclosure of the deliberations depends on the permission of that minister.
Article 36--Any minister can withdraw any matter which he has proposed to the assembly at any point in the discussion, unless his statement has been made at the instance of the assembly, in which case statement has been made at the instance of the assembly, in which case the withdrawal of the matter depends on the consent of the assembly.
Article 37--If a bill introduced by any minister is not accepted by the national consultative assembly, it shall be returned, supplemented by the observations of the assembly; and the responsible minister, after rejecting or accepting the criticisms of the assembly, can propose the aforesaid bill a second time to the assembly.
members of the national consultative assembly must clearly and plainly signify their rejection or acceptance of bills, and no one has the right to persuade or threaten them in recording their votes. The signification by the members of the assembly of such rejection or acceptance [Page: H6684]
must be effected in such manner that newspaper correspondents and spectators also may perceive it, that is to say their intention must be signified by some outward sign such
as (the employment of) blue and white voting-papers, or the like.
On the Introduction of Bills and Other Proposals by the Assembly.
Article 39--Whenever any bill is proposed by one of the members of the assembly, it can only be discussed when at least fifteen members of the assembly shall approve the discussion on that bill. In such case the proposal in question shall be forwarded in writing to the President of the assembly, who has the right to arrange that it shall be subjected to a preliminary investigation in a Committee of Enquiry.
Article 40--On the occasion of the discussion and investigation of such bill as is mentioned in Article 39, whether in the assembly or in the Committee of Enquiry, notice shall be given by the assembly to the responsible minister, if any, concerning that bill, that if possible he himself, or, if not, his deputy, shall be present in the assembly, so that the debate may take place in the presence of one or other of them. The draft of the (proposed) bill, with its additions, must be sent from ten
days to a month before the time (with the exception of matters added at the last moment) to the responsible minister; and so likewise the day of its discussion must be determined beforehand. After the bill has been discussed in the presence of the responsible minister, and in case it should, by a majority of votes, receive the approval of the assembly, it shall be officially transmitted in writing to the responsible minister, so that he may take the necessary actions to implement it.
Article 41--If the responsible minister cannot, for any reason, agree with the national consultative assembly about the said bill, he must offer his excuses to it and give it satisfaction.
Article 42--Should the national consultative assembly demand explanations on any matter from the responsible minister, the minister in question must give an answer, which answer must not be postponed unnecessarily or without plausible reason, save in the case of secret matters, the secrecy of which for some definite period is to the advantage of the country and the people. In such cases, on the lapse of the definite period the responsible minister is bound to disclose that matter in the assembly.
On the Conditions Regulating the Formation of the Senate.
Article 43--There shall be constituted another assembly, entitled the Senate, consisting of sixty members, the sessions of which, after its constitution, shall be contemporaneous to the sessions of the national consultative assembly.
Article 44--The regulations of the Senate must be approved by the national consultative assembly.
Article 45--The members of this assembly shall be chosen from amongst the well-informed, discerning, pious and respected persons of the realm. Thirty of them shall be nominated by His Imperial Majesty (fifteen of the people of Tehran, and fifteen of the people of the provinces), and thirty shall be elected by the people (fifteen elected by the people of Tehran, and fifteen elected by the people of the provinces).
Article 46--After the convocation of the Senate, all proposals must be approved by both assemblies. If those proposals shall have been originated in the Senate, or by the cabinet of ministers, they must first be amended and corrected in the Senate and accepted by a majority of votes, and must then be approved by the national consultative assembly. But proposals brought forward by the national consultative assembly must, on the contrary, go from this assembly to the Senate, except in the case
of financial matters, which belong exclusively to the national consultative assembly. The decision of the assembly, in respect to the above-mentioned proposals, shall be made known to the Senate, so that it in turn may communicate its observations to the national consultative assembly, but the latter, after due discussion, is free to accept or reject these observations of the Senate.
Article 47--So long as the Senate has not been convoked, proposals shall, after being approved by the national consultative assembly, receive the Royal assent, shall then have the force of law.
Article 48--If any proposal, after undergoing debate and revision in the Senate, be referred by a minister to the national consultative assembly, and be not accepted, such disputed proposal shall, in case of its being of importance, be reconsidered by a third assembly composed of members of the Senate and members of the national consultative assembly elected in equal moieties by members of the two assemblies. The decision of this (third) assembly shall be read out in the national consultative
assembly. If it be then accepted, well. If not, a full account of the matter shall be submitted to His Majesty and should the Royal judgment support the view of the national consultative assembly, it shall become effective; but if not, orders will be issued for a fresh discussion and investigation. If again no agreement of opinion results,
and the Senate, by a majority of two thirds, approves the dissolution of the national consultative assembly, this approval being separately affirmed by the cabinet of ministers, then the Imperial decree will be issued for the dissolution of the national consultative assembly, and at the same time orders shall be given for the
holding of fresh elections, the people, however, have the right to re-elect their former representatives.
Article 49--The new representatives of Tehran must present themselves within the space of one month, and the representatives of the provinces within the space of three months. When the representatives of the Capital are present, the Assembly shall be opened, and shall begin its labors, but they shall not discuss disputed proposals until the provincial representatives shall arrive. If, after the arrival of all its members, the new assembly shall by a clear majority confirm the first decision,
His Most Sacred and Imperial Majesty shall approve that decision of the national consultative assembly, and shall order it to be carried into effect.
Article 50--In each electoral period, which consists of two years, orders for the renewal of representatives shall not be given more than once.
Article 51--It is agreed that the kings of our successors and posterity shall regard as a duty of their sovereign state and an obligation incumbent upon them the maintenance of these laws and principles, which we have established and put into force for the strengthening of the edifice of the country, the consolidation of the foundations of the Throne, the superintendence of the machinery of Justice, and the tranquility of the nation.
14 of the month of Dhu'l-Qa'da, in the year of 1324 A.H.
(=December 30, 1906).
``These constitutional laws of the national consultative assembly and the senate, containing fifty-one articles, are correct.
(Dhu al-Qi'dah 14, A.H. 1324''
(=December 30, 1906).
(Underneath the concluding words is the signature of the Muzaffaru'd-Din Shah, and on the back of the page are the seals of the then Crown Prince or Wali-'ahd (the deposed Shah, Muhammad'Ali), and of the late Mushiru'd-Dawla.)
Mr. LANTOS. Madam Speaker, I am pleased to yield to my good friend and distinguished colleague from Ohio (Mr. Kucinich) as much time as he might consume.
Mr. LANTOS. Madam Speaker, I have no further requests for time. We yield back the balance of our time.