More than 100 years after the Bolshevik Revolution, where communism first grasped power, and 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, one-fifth of the world’s population still lives under single-party communist regimes in China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam. Freedom is losing ground in Crimea, Venezuela, Hong Kong, and the former countries of the Soviet Union.
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) exists to study, record, and broadcast the facts and bring the truth of the brutal failures of communism to a forgetful and uninformed public. Geopolitical actors from Beijing and Pyongyang to Havana and Caracas desperately want to undermine the West’s ability to condemn their tyrannies and encourage their people’s desire for freedom. They present single-party dictatorship and high-tech totalitarianism as acceptable 21st century alternatives to Western democracy. This tactic is working. From the United Nations at Turtle Bay to the European Union headquarters in Brussels, and even at times the White House or Congress, too many institutions have accepted their claims as valid.
In 1959, the first Captive Nations Week was established by Congress and observed under President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a time for the United States to recognize those peoples and nations suffering under the oppression of communist and other totalitarian regimes. As mandated by U.S. law, every president since has reserved the third week of July to remember the captive nations. Although many of the nations named in the original legislation have since become democratic and free, one-fifth of the world’s population is still held captive by communist tyranny today. Each July, VOC leads efforts to mark National Captive Nations Week in fulfillment of the 1959 congressional resolution. We host a summit, welcome congressional remarks, read the official presidential proclamation, and provide an annual State of the Captive Nations report on conditions in countries of concern.
VOC provides a powerful platform for today’s dissidents by partnering with other advocates and organizations to convene public rallies, foster dialogue, brief policymakers, and award the VOC Human Rights Award to activists and dissidents of Captive Nations for their bravery in standing for human rights and freedom in the face of communist tyranny.