A Proclamation on Captive Nations Week, 2023

During the third week of July 2023, President Biden formally declared Captive Nations Week to commemorate those who still suffer from the darkness of communism and other oppressive forms of rule around the world.

As President Biden proclaimed:

“During Captive Nations Week, we reaffirm our support for brave people around the world who are standing up to oppressive rule and striving for greater freedom, greater dignity, and greater democracy.

When President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed the first Captive Nations Week in 1959, he appealed directly to the hundreds of millions living behind the Iron Curtain — firm in the knowledge that authoritarianism could never erase a people’s love of liberty.  Over the coming decades, courageous women and men joined together to demand their fundamental freedoms and human rights.  But the battle against oppression did not end with the Cold War.  The forces of autocracy continue to reassert themselves.  In Iran, Belarus, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the People’s Republic of China, and elsewhere, we are seeing an all too familiar contempt for the rule of law, for democracy, for human rights, and even for the truth itself.

This is all too evident in Russia’s brutal aggression against its neighbor Ukraine and in the Ukrainian people’s courageous defense of their sovereignty, freedom, land, and lives.  And around the world, countless more are working every day in their own countries to advance the essential democratic principles that unite free people everywhere:  the rule of law; free and fair elections; the freedom of the press; the freedom to speak, write, and assemble; and the freedom to worship as one chooses.  These advocates and champions of democracy are living proof that the darkness that drives autocracy can never extinguish the flame of liberty that lights the souls of free people everywhere.

Read the full proclamation from the White House.