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Here’s What Past Presidents Have Said on Captive Nations Week

Here’s What Past Presidents Have Said on Captive Nations Week

Every July since Congress unanimously passed the 1959 Captive Nations Resolution, the United States officially recognizes the struggle of those nations held captive by communist tyranny. Since the time that President Eisenhower published the first Captive Nations Week proclamation, most of the countries named in the original law have achieved independence and are now democratic and free. Others continue to suffer under brutal oppression.

Below you’ll find excerpts from every past president since Eisenhower on the occasion of Captive Nations Week (and at the bottom of this post you can find links to every proclamation since 1959).

Dwight D. Eisenhower ——————–
“It is appropriate and proper to manifest to the peoples of the captive nations the support of the Government and the people of the United States of America for their just aspirations for freedom and national independence.” (1959)

John F. Kennedy ——————–
“Many of the roots of our society and our population lie in these countries. It is in keeping with our national tradition that the American people manifest its interest in the freedom of other nations.” (1961)

“Justice requires the elemental right of free choice.” (1963)

Lyndon B. Johnson ——————–
“It remains a fundamental purpose and intention of the Government and people of the United States of America to recognize and encourage constructive actions which foster the growth and development of national independence and human freedom.” (1965)

“It remains an essential purpose and a fundamental policy of the United States of America to sustain these principles and to encourage their realization by all peoples” (1966)

Richard M. Nixon ——————–
“Ten years have passed and there have been many changes in international affairs. But one thing that has not changed is the desire for national independence in Eastern Europe.” (1969)

“The aspirations of the peoples of oppressed nations for independence and basic human freedoms are vital and inextinguishable.” (1970)

“We do not seek to impose our beliefs upon others, but we do not hide our sympathies towards the desires of those who, like us, cherish liberty and self-determination.” (1974)

Gerald R. Ford ——————–
“For two centuries, the fundamental basis of American policy toward other nations has remained unchanged: the United States supports the aspirations for freedom, independence and national self-determination of all peoples. We do not accept foreign domination over any nation. We reaffirm today this principle and policy.” (1976)

 Jimmy Carter ——————–
“However greatly the world has changed in the past generation, our country’s fundamental faith in human freedom remains constant. Americans now, as at all times in our history, remain steadfast in our belief that liberty and national independence are among the universal birthrights of mankind.” (1979)

“Our ideal has remained that of our founding fathers: governments derive their legitimacy from the consent of the peoples they govern. Soviet aggression against Afghanistan is the latest stark reminder that this ideal is not universally respected.” (1980)

 Ronald Reagan ——————–
“Free people, if they are to remain free, must defend the liberty of others. As the custodians of a democratic tradition firmly established on this continent more than two centuries ago, Americans are deeply committed to the goal of representative government everywhere.” (1983)

“We must draw strength from the actions of the millions of freedom fighters in Communist-occupied countries, such as the signers of petitions for religious rights in Lithuania, or the members of Solidarity, whose public protests require personal risk and sacrifice that is almost incomprehensible to the average citizen in the Free World. It is in their struggle for freedom that we can find the true path to genuine and lasting peace.” (1984)

“In the last year alone, people have risen up to demand basic human rights in Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Moldavia, and among the Crimean Tatars. And across the globe, in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, and Nicaragua, courageous freedom fighters battle tyranny. All captive nations deserve and require our special support. For those seeking to enjoy humanity’s birthright of liberty, independence, and justice, we serve as guardians of their dream.” (1987)

George H.W. Bush ——————–
“Today, the leaders of the Soviet Union and other Communist governments are discovering that the voices of those who long for freedom and self-determination cannot be silenced. Around the world, men and women in captive nations are calling for recognition of their basic human rights. Their calls — the undeniable expression of just aspirations — are beginning to be heard.” (1989)

“The end of communist domination in Eastern Europe and progress toward democratization and greater openness in the Soviet Union are signs of a new era. Ideals we Americans have long cherished and defended — ideals of individual liberty and self-government — are triumphing in nations that once bore the heavy yoke of totalitarianism.” (1990)

Bill Clinton ——————–
“Authoritarianism still wields an iron grip over the lives of millions. And in this new time we are confronted by the alarming specter of racial, ethnic, and religious animosities and violence. It is thus all the more reason for us to recommit ourselves to the work of promoting respect for universal human rights and for political freedom for people of all races, creeds, and nationalities the world over.” (1994)

“Nations once dominated by the Soviet Union and its satellite governments have blossomed into new democracies, establishing free market economies and free societies that respect individual rights. Families and countrymen once divided by walls and barbed wire, now walk together in the fresh air of liberty.” (1997)

George W. Bush ——————–
“In spite of the proliferation of democracies over the past century, many people across the globe are held captive by their governments. More than a decade after the Berlin Wall fell, more than 2 billion people still live under authoritarian regimes. America must remain vigilant in our support of those living under authoritarianism.” (2001)

“At this critical time in the history of freedom, no nation can evade the demands of human dignity. In countries like Iran, North Korea, Belarus, Burma, Syria, Zimbabwe, and Cuba, governments must become accountable to their citizens and embrace democracy. The desire for freedom is written in every human heart, and we can be confident that in this century freedom will continue to prevail.” (2006)

Barack Obama ——————–
“With each generation, people have breathed new life into democratic ideals, striving for personal freedom, political and economic reform, and justice. The United States stands firmly behind all those who seek to exercise their basic human rights. We will continue to oppose the use of violence and repression and support the universal rights of freedom of religion, expression, and peaceful assembly; equality for men and women under the rule of law; and the right of people to choose their leaders.” (2011)

“As the grip of the Cold War tightened, America pledged our solidarity to every nation held captive behind the Iron Curtain and every individual who refused to accept that fate. We stood with them through a long twilight struggle until—from Europe to South America to Southeast Asia—democracy took root, a wall tumbled down, and people who had known only the blinders of fear began to taste the blessings of freedom.” (2014)


See all the past Captive Nations Week Declarations:

1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014