With the awarding of the 2008 World Olympics to
Beijing, China and the increase of religious and personal persecution
around the world, a growing awareness of global suffering has awakened
the United States government’s commitment to reach out to those persecuted
in nations throughout the world.
On July 13, 2001, President Bush reestablished
a proclamation first ordered by President Eisenhower in 1959 to declare
the third week of July Captive Nations Week "until such time
as freedom and independence shall have been achieved for all the captive
nations in the world." When President Eisenhower first made his
proclamation, the greatest enemies to freedom and democracy were countries
behind the Iron Curtain and in Eastern Asia under communist rule.
Today, on almost every continent of the world, men and women suffer
great personal atrocities at the hands of godless dictators.
In a statement released by the White House, President
Bush gave the following remarks:
"Americans and the 3 billion others across
the globe living in democracies desire the same freedoms for the remaining
42 percent of the world’s population who live without them. But as
long as governments like those in Afghanistan, Burma, Cuba, Iraq,
and Sudan exist, freedom is not accessible to all. Greater access
to robust marketplaces of ideas, as well as freedom of worship and
expression, will empower those living in closed societies. Strong
and transparent judicial systems and respect for human rights and
the rule of law also serve as necessary foundations for democracy.
To promote the development of democratic practices
worldwide, I reaffirm America’s support for freedom, justice, and
pluralism. I have asked my Administration to examine our programs
to support democracy and human rights movements closely and to ensure
that these programs advance American policy. In addition, I want to
make certain that our annual State Department human rights, trafficking
in persons, and religious freedom reports are integrated into America
NOW, THEREFORE, I GEORGE W BUSH, President of
the United States of America, do hereby proclaim July 15-21, 2001
as Captive Nations Week. I call upon the people of the United States
to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities and
to reaffirm their devotion to the aspirations of all peoples for liberty,
justice, and self-determination."
It is time for America to accept the President’s
challenge and return to the position of comfort and hope to those
persecuted around the world.
("Presidential Proclamation: Captive Nations
Week, 2001," U.S. Newswire, July 13, 2001)
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