President Bush Reestablishes Captive Nations Week

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 foreign policy…

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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