Click to enlargepadCaptive Nations Week Commemoration 2008

July 29, 2008

Washington, DC (JBANC) --- Since the summer of 1959, the President of the United States has proclaimed the third week in July as Captive Nations week.

At a 50th observance event on July 17 at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC representatives of about two dozen organizations met to recount struggles in the former Captive Nations and to hear about the current situation in those countries where communism still reigns - China, Cuba, North Korea, and Vietnam.

Even though the nations of Central and Eastern Europe became free again during the events of 1989-1991, the tyranny, subjugation and oppression of communism is still painfully evident in the remaining Captive Nations.

Lee Edwards, Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOCMF) hosted the event, evoking the late Lev Dobriansky, “Mr. Captive Nations” who passed away in January. Michael Sawkiw of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America read a letter by his daughter Paula Dobriansky, the Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs.

In the letter, Under Secretary Dobriansky wrote that “we will actively work to raise awareness about the crimes of the past, to hold out a light of hope for those who are still denied liberty, and to the opportunities of freedom, justice and a better life for those who have only recently stepped out of tyranny's shadow.”

Reports were given on China and Tibet (John Tkacik, Heritage Foundation), Cuba (Frank Calzón, Center for a Free Cuba), North Korea (Suzanne Scholte, North Korea Freedom Coalition), and Vietnam (Anhthu Lu, National Congress of Vietnamese Americans).

Marju Rink-Abel, President of the Estonian American National Council presented a $5000 donation to the VOCMF, specifically for the Global Museum on Communism, the online virtual museum that will be launched in early 2009. A preview site is now online at:

Support for the Global Museum on Communism has already come in during the past few months from the governments of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the first three countries to contribute monetarily to the project.

Other members of the Baltic-American community at the event were Dr. Ramunas Kondratas of the Lithuanian American Council, and Karl Altau of JBANC. Marju Rink-Abel and Ramunas Kondratas also serve concurrently on the Board of the Joint Baltic American National Committee.

In a related development, the Russian Foreign Ministry has criticized President George W. Bush for equating the “evils of Soviet communism and Nazi fascism” in the Captive Nations Week Proclamation issued by the White House on July 18.

Other resources:

Captive Nations Week Proclamation by the President of the United States of America:

Photos from the Captive Nations event:

Letter from Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky:

Photo Caption:

Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Chairman Lee Edwards receives donation for Global Museum on Communism from Marju Rink-Abel, President of the Estonian American National Council.

Octobr 17, 2008 - President Bush Discusses the Visa Waiver Program
Office of the Press Secretary/ White House News

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Please be seated, thank you. Welcome to the White House. I'm pleased to stand with the representatives of seven countries -- the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and South Korea -- that have met the requirements to be admitted to the United States Visa Waiver Program. Soon the citizens of these nations will be able to travel to the United States for business or tourism without a visa. I congratulate these close friends and allies on this achievement, and I thank you for joining us here.

I also thank Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of the Homeland -- Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff for working hard to make sure this day has finally arrived. Appreciate other members of the administration here and members of the Diplomatic Corps.

The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc.
400 Hurley Avenue
Rockville, MD 20850-3121
tel. 301-340-1954
fax: 301-309-1406