The Victims of Communism Foundation's Blog

VOC Resources: Captive Nations Week

VOC Resources: Captive Nations Week

Today marks the beginning of Captive Nations Week. Every third week of July since President Eisenhower signed the 1959 Captive Nations Resolution, the United States officially recognizes the struggle of those nations held captive by communist tyranny.

President Barack Obama, 2011 Proclamation: 
“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.”

President George W. Bush, 2001 Proclamation: 
“In spite of the proliferation of democracies over the past century, many people across the globe are held captive by their governments. America must remain vigilant in our support of those living under authoritarianism.”

President Ronald Reagan, 1983 Proclamation: 
“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.”

President Dwight Eisenhower, 1959 Proclamation:
“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.”

Dr. Lee Edwards, The Essential Role Of Human Rights In The Cold War: 
“After the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, U.S. Presidents continued to use Captive Nations Week to draw attention to the dire condition of human rights in many countries around the globe—and to note the encouraging progress of former captive nations.”

While the world has changed with the passing of the years, the reasons for the establishment of Captive Nations Week remain as urgent and compelling as ever. Hostility to the basic principles of freedom still festers across the globe. Many nations still suffer under foreign domination and ideologies alien to human nature and the dignity of the human person. Many individuals suffer vicious persecution and unjust imprisonment because of their political and religious beliefs and their desire for liberty. So this year too we reiterate our belief in the ideals of government by consent, individual rights, and the rule of law, and express our solidarity with the oppressed people of the world who are denied them.

There is good reason to believe that in our times freedom is in special danger. One fifth of the world’s population lives under communism in the single-party Leninist regimes of China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam. In Europe, portions of Ukraine are under direct foreign occupation. Other areas of that country suffer from chaos and warfare that has been willfully unleashed on them by the illegal ambitions of its powerful neighbor. In East Asia, after twenty years of rule from Beijing, the people of Hong Kong have seen the precious principles of democracy, representative government, and the rule of law slowly squeezed in the Marxist vise. In the Americas, the nation of Venezuela has fallen under the sway of a vicious party allied with Cuba’s Castro regime, which, entrenched in a position of power it does not deserve, is now attempting to stifle the Venezuelan people’s just aspirations for political freedom through violence and brutality.

With this sobering background in mind, we call our readers to reflect on the plight of these captive nations around the world:


Chen Guangcheng:
Chen was born in China’s Shandong province in 1971, in the midst of the country’s violent Cultural Revolution. Chen became blind when he was five months old because of an untreated fever. This life-changing event categorized him as one of China’s greatest discriminated groups—the disabled. Today, Chen has become one of the main figures of the Chinese civil rights movement.

The Chinese Communist Party’s Mental Acrobatics Program by Desmond Turner, 2017:
Wherever the Party is, there is its insecure insistence that you go through the motions of its prescribed mental acrobatics. The CCP doesn’t confine the spreading of its message to business, either. Chinese state media companies—more accurately, CCP propaganda mouthpieces—actively post and broadcast on the same platforms that they spend billions to block in China.

In Memory of Lui Xiaobo, 1955 – 2017
“The Chinese government led by Chairman Xi Jinping is responsible for the death of one of this generation’s most important Chinese scholars. His brilliance was silenced because it did not conform to the party’s ideas and further their totalitarian agenda,” says VOC Executive Director Marion Smith. “His work was silenced in China and he died in captivity because of his ideas. This is a sobering reminder that communism is still alive and well in the 21st century.”


Danilo “El Sexto” Maldonado:
As a young kid in Cuba, El Sexto was constantly indoctrinated with the country’s revolutionary ideology and saw himself unable to express his thoughts through art. As he grew older, he eventually found the artistic medium that would give him voice: graffiti. However, his artistic expression came at the price of his freedom—he is now one of Cuba’s most detained artists.

Cuba’s Heir: Miguel Diaz-Canel by Dissident, 2017: 
Next year will be a decisive one for Cuba. Raul Castro plans to step down as leader of the communist island in 2018, at the end of his second-five term. Raul, who was himself unanimously voted president in 2008, plans to continue the regime’s tradition of nondemocratic transfers of power by installing Cuba’s Vice-President, Miguel Diaz-Canel, as the Island’s next maximum leader.


Joshua Wong:
Joshua is a Hong Kong student activist who founded the group Scholarism and is known for his leadership in the Hong Kong pro-democracy Umbrella Movement. He was recently detained by police during Communist Party leader Xi Jinping’s visit to Hong Kong.

The Political Storm Brewing In Hong Kong by Hayeon Carol Park, 2016: 
In 2014, the Chinese government decided to deny Hong Kong citizens’ right to vote directly for their chief executive by giving itself sole prerogative over choosing the candidates. This system of “You can vote, but we select the candidates” led to over 100,000 Hong Kong student protestors gathering in the streets in an event that would come to be known as the Umbrella Movement or Umbrella Revolution.


Sombath Somphone:
Sombath has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the Laotian people. After receiving several prestigious international awards and a great deal of international recognition, Sombath was abducted by security forces in 2012. His whereabouts remain unknown.

Captive Nations Report 2016: Laos, Bounchanh Senthavong:
Laos, or the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), is an authoritarian state ruled by a single party, the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP). The Lao People’s Revolutionary Party is the only legal political party in Laos. Laos’s communist government has ruled the country under a dictatorial regime for over 40 years. Citizens have no right to choose their government. There is no freedom of assembly, of association, of peaceful protest, and no freedom of expression. There is no mechanism or space for Laotian citizens to criticize the government. There is no free press.


The Dangerous Lives of North Korean Defectors by Hayeon Carol Park, 2017:
There are numerous defectors who are fighting to help the compatriots they left behind. Despite the danger they and their families face, they keep up the fight, hoping that one day soon their courageous efforts will succeed in bringing true change to North Korea.

North Korea’s Worldwide Slave Ring by Hayeon Carol Park, 2017:
The North Korean regime has made money for decades by exporting thousands of slave laborers to Malaysia, China, Russia, and other countries around the world. North Korean laborers are not paid directly by their foreign employers, but through the state, which pockets most of the money and gives them only about ten percent of their nominal salaries.


Myroslav Marynovych:
Marynovych is vice-rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University and founder of Amnesty International Ukraine. Despite having suffered as a prisoner of conscience for nearly a decade during the Brezhnev era, Marynovych has worked tirelessly to strengthen civil society in his native country. He is an eloquent spokesman for human rights and Ukrainian sovereignty. Mr. Marynovych has dedicated his life to first freeing Ukraine from Soviet oppression and then to building institutions of freedom in Ukraine. He received VOC’s Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom Award in 2014.

7 Inconvenient Facts For Putin’s 70th Victory Day Celebration by Dissident, 2015:
Kremlin officials and state media have routinely referred to Ukrainian resistance fighters and the government in Kiev as “fascists” or “Nazis,” thus trying to cloak the current Russian landgrab in Ukraine as some holy crusade against the forces of extremism. Even the orange and black St. George ribbon has been transformed from a symbol of Russia’s defense against fascist Germany into a pennant of support for the Kremlin’s ongoing war in Ukraine. By painting Ukrainian patriots as Nazis, the Russian government cheapens the very memory it is attempting to honor with the Victory Parade.


Wuilly Arteaga:
Wuilly is a 23-year-old violinist who has armed himself with his violin and gone out into the streets to play in support of the pro-democracy movement. But in May, a National Guard soldier on a motorcycle grabbed and destroyed the violin. This was not just Wuilly’s property; it was his livelihood and his voice.

The Five C’s Of A Crippled Country by Ana Gabriela Delgado, 2016:
Venezuela and Cuba share the five C’s of a crippled country: centralized government, corrupt elections, collectivist economies, corroded society, and censorship. Hugo Chávez’s and Fidel Castro’s political ideologies, carried on by their successors Nicolás Maduro and Raúl Castro, have ravaged Venezuela and Cuba for decades.


Father Nguyen Van Ly:
Father Lý is a Vietnamese Roman Catholic priest and advocate for religious freedom in communist Vietnam. Because of his opposition to Vietnam’s antireligious policies, he has spent more than twenty years of his life in prison and fifteen in “house arrest.”

In Vietnam, A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words by Dissident, 2016: 
Vietnam’s communist government lacks democratic legitimacy and commits serious and enduring violations of its people’s human rights and dignity. Moral clarity demands the nature of its government and the manner in which it treats its citizens be integral, not incidental, to our foreign policy.