By the President of the United States of America
This month Americans mark 223 years of freedom from tyranny. We celebrate the vision of our founders who, in signing the Declaration of Independence, proclaimed the importance of liberty, the value of human dignity, and the need for a new form of government dedicated to the will of the people. As heirs to that legacy and the fortunate citizens of a democratic Nation, we continue to cherish the values of freedom and equality. Many people across the globe, however, are still denied the rights we exercise daily and too often take for granted. During Captive Nations Week, we reaffirm our solidarity with those around the world who suffer under the shadow of dictators and tyrants.
Americans have expressed their devotion to freedom and human rights through actions as well as words, having fought and died for these ideals time and again. In World War II, we battled the brutality of fascism. In Korea, Vietnam, and throughout the Cold War, we stood up to the despotism of communism. In the Persian Gulf, and in partnership with our NATO allies in the skies over Serbia and Kosovo, we have fought brutal and oppressive regimes.
Thanks to our strength and resolve and the courage of countless men and women in countries around the world, we can be proud that the list of captive nations has grown smaller. The fall of the Berlin Wall a decade ago finally enabled us to pursue democratic reform in Central and Eastern Europe and to lay the firm foundations of freedom, peace, and prosperity. And in countries around the world, from South Africa to South Korea to South America, democracy is flourishing, and citizens enjoy the liberty to seek their own destiny.
The post-Cold-War world, however, confronts us with a new set of dangers to freedom—threats such as civil wars, terrorism, and ethnic cleansing. There are still rulers in the world who refuse to join the march toward freedom, who believe that the only way to govern is with an iron fist, and who rely on reprehensible practices like arbitrary detention, forced labor, torture, and execution to subjugate their people.
As we observe this Captive Nations Week, let us once again reaffirm our profound commitment to freedom and universal human rights. Let us continue to promote tolerance, justice, and equality and to speak out for those who have no voice. Let us rededicate ourselves to the growth of democracy and the rule of law; and let us resolve that in the next century we will foster the further expansion of the rights and freedoms with which Americans have been blessed for so long.
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, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim July 18 through July 24, 1999, as Captive Nations Week. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities and to rededicate ourselves to supporting the cause of freedom, human rights, and self-determination for all the peoples of the world.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of July, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-fourth.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON