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Happy "Captive Nations Week"

posted Jul 30, 2014, 5:53 PM by The Tibetan Political Review   [ updated Jul 30, 2014, 6:03 PM ]
By the editorial board of The Tibetan Political Review 

Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama followed all his predecessors since Harry Truman and officially proclaimed the commemoration of “Captive Nations Week”.   Interestingly, based on the original 1959 Congressional resolution, one of the captive nations being commemorated was Tibet.

According to Slate, Captive Nations Week is an “artifact of the Cold War”.  The original Congressional resolution establishing this commemoration declared that the “liberation and independence” of communist-occupied nations was “vital to the national security of the United States.”

The resolution denounced Communist Russia’s direct or indirect role in the “subjugation of the national independence” of countries including: Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Ukraine, Estonia, Romania, mainland China, North Korea, and Tibet.  While clearly understood through the lens of anti-communism, this resolution also expressed powerful moral support for the aspirations of these captive nations.  It also showed that the U.S. Congress considered Tibet to be separate from China.

Even more, the resolution linked the “desire for liberty and independence” to the cause of peace.  It declared that the fulfilment of these goals is a “powerful deterrent to war and one of the best hopes for a just and lasting peace.

Last week, President Obama declared that the United States stands “with all who still seek to throw off their oppressors and embrace a brighter day….  America extends our support to all peoples seeking to build true democracy, real prosperity, and lasting security.  While the road to self-determination is long and treacherous, history proves it is passable.”

Clearly President Obama’s declaration has no more than symbolic significance for Tibet, and even that comes largely indirectly through the original Congressional resolution that mentioned Tibet.  U.S. policy does not change based on this declaration.

However, the continued commemoration of the subject of the original 1959 resolution does deserve attention.   In addition to its historical significance, it illustrates some of the enduring principles, arguments, and ideals that continue to have resonance for any captive nations still seeking their freedom.

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