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Captive Nations Week – July 11, 2024

Captive Nations Week has been proclaimed for the third week in July every year since its inception and is taking place from July 11 this year. During the Cold War, a captive nation was one that was ruled by communists, particularly by the Soviets. While there is no Soviet rule anymore, there are nations that are still under the control of non-democratic governments and this week-long official observance aims to raise public awareness of the issues that are faced by these nations. 

History of Captive Nations Week

Captive Nations Week was declared by a Congressional resolution in 1953 and was aimed at creating awareness of the Soviet occupation of the countries in Eastern Europe and the Soviet imposition of support to Communist regimes. 

The resolution was later signed into Public Law 86-90 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Lev E. Dobriansky, a renowned anti-communist advocate is credited for playing a pivotal role in the Captive Nations committee. He was the son of Ukrainian immigrants and spent his life advocating for freedom for people under communist rule. He has also served as a U.S. ambassador, professor of economics, writer, lecturer, and global strategist. He created a text for the captive nations law, which eventually translated into Captive Nations Week. However, after the collapse of communist regimes in Eastern Europe, the week now extends support to the newly democratic governments of these countries. 

Since its inception, every U.S. President has declared the third week of July as Captive Nations Week. The week-long observance sees participation from diasporas from undemocratic countries and seeks to draw attention to the problems surrounding democracy and human rights. In the recent past, members of the Belarusian American community have been a major part of the participants in Captive Nations Week marches. There has now also been a call for the resurrection of Captive Nations Week as several countries are still dominated by authoritarian and totalitarian communist regimes.

Captive Nations Week is a time for everyone to come together and unite to create a better and safe place for each citizen living in any part of the world. 

Captive Nations Week timeline

Congressional Resolution

A congressional resolution declares Captive Nations Week.

Signed into Law

President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the Captive Nations Week resolution into law.

President Ronald Reagan’s Speech

President Ronald Reagan quotes Russian dissident writers Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Alexander Herzen in his official address at Captive Nations Week.

Request for Resurrection of Captive Nations Week

Marion Smith, Executive Director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, calls for a resurrection of Captive Nations Week.

Captive Nations Week FAQs

Where is Captive Nations Week celebrated?

Captive Nations Week is a week-long observance, mainly in the United States. 

How can I show solidarity towards captive nations?

You can show solidarity to the Captive Nations cause by advocating for the rights of global citizens to live a free life, championing democracy via learning and educating others, and signing petitions.    

What are the captive nations?

Some of the countries identified as captive nations in the original Public Law 86-90 include Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, Romania, Tibet, and Azerbaijan, to name a few. 

How to Observe Captive Nations Week

  1. Learn about communist nations

    Take the opportunity in Captive Nations Week to learn about communist and oppressed nations in the world. This will help you open your eyes to the plight of these nations and show solidarity towards them.

  2. Advocate for democratic rights

    Each global citizen deserves to live in a democratic world. During Captive Nations Week, advocate for the need for democracy in globally oppressed nations. You can join a cause or attend parades or panel discussions.

  3. Use the power of social media to spread awareness

    Social media has the power to start movements and really make an impact. Channel this power to spread awareness about the issues faced by these oppressed nations and get more people to join this cause.

5 Facts About Captive Nations

  1. Origins

    The origins of the Captive Nations lie in the aftermath of the First World War and the Bolshevik Revolution.

  2. The original number of captive nations

    There were 23 captive nations listed in the original Public Law.

  3. The Russians

    Russians argued that Captive Nations Week was anti-Russian since the captive nations’ list did not include them.

  4. New proclamation

    American leaders issue a new version of the Captive Nations Proclamation each year.

  5. Captive nations events

    U.S. Presidents, mayors, and governors sometimes attended Captive Nations Week events during the Cold War.

Why Captive Nations Week is Important

  1. It highlights the plight of oppressed nations

    Captive Nations Week brings to light the plight of these oppressed nations. People around the world need to know how citizens of other countries are living to invoke a sense of solidarity and catalyze potential change.

  2. It brings about the need for action

    Highlighting the plight of oppressed nations or the issues faced by nations under non-democratic governments brings about the need for action. It is important to champion the cause for democracy and allow every global citizen to live a free life.

  3. It promotes global unity

    Extending support towards oppressed nations is a noble cause. It brings nations together on a single platform and promotes global unity.

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