Captive Nations Week, 2003
July 18, 2003
During Captive Nations Week, first declared in 1959 as a statement against
the continuing Communist domination of Eastern Europe, America expresses its
dedication to freedom and democracy. While many countries around the world
uphold these principles, millions of people still live under regimes that
violate their citizens' rights daily. In countries such as Burma and Iran,
citizens lack the right to choose their government, speak out against oppres-sion,
and practice their religion freely. The despot who rules Cuba imprisons political
opponents and crushes peaceful opposition, while in North Korea hundreds of
thousands languish in prison camps and citizens suffer from malnutrition as
the regime pursues weapons of mass destruction. Violence, corruption, and
mismanagement reign in Zimbabwe and an authori-tarian government in Belarus
smothers political dissent.
Yet the cause of freedom is advancing. With the demise of the brutal regime
of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi people are no longer captives in their own country.
Their freedom is evidence of the fall of one of the most oppressive dictators
in history. Today, American and coalition forces are helping to restore civil
order and provide critical humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people. Iraqis are
now meeting openly and freely to discuss the future of their country. The
United States vows to continue to work with those trying to bring about peaceful
democratic change and greater respect for human rights.
The Congress, by Joint Resolution approved July 17, 1959, (73 Stat. 212),
has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation designating
the third week in July of each year as "Captive Nations Week."
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America,
do hereby proclaim July 20 through July 26, 2003, 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 commitment to all those seeking
liberty, justice, and self-determination.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of July,
in the year of our Lord two thousand three, and of the Independence of the
United States of America the two hundred and twenty-eighth.