2019 Captive Nations Week

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) marked Captive Nations Week with the Captive Nations Week Summit on Capitol Hill, the fourth annual National Seminar for Middle & High School Educators, and the "Victims of Venezuela's Dictatorship" Photo Exhibition at the Organization of American States.

The White House issued a Presidential Proclamation for Captive Nations Week, stating, "During Captive Nations Week, we reaffirm our Nation’s unwavering support for those who strive to be free from oppression. We condemn repressive regimes that deny people their God-given rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." >>>Full text here.


Captive Nations Week Summit on Capitol Hill

Captive Nations Week Summit attendees listen to Amb. Paula Dobriansky.

Captive Nations Week Summit attendees listen to Amb. Paula Dobriansky.

On July 15, in conjunction with the second annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom hosted by the US Department of State, VOC convened the Captive Nations Week Summit on Capitol Hill where policymakers and human rights advocates heard first-hand from witnesses of the captive nations of China, Cuba, Hong Kong, Laos, Nicaragua, North Korea, Venezuela, andVietnam.

Featured participants included Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Co-Chair of the Victims of Communism Caucus Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Vietnam Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Organization of American States Sec. Gen. Luis Almagro, Ambassador of Venezuela to the United States of the US-recognized interim government of Juan Guaidó Amb. Carlos Vecchio, VOC Trustee Amb. Paula Dobriansky, Hong Kong Watch Chairman Benedict Rogers, and exiled Vietnamese blogger and 2019 Victims of Communism Human Rights Award laureate Mother Mushroom.


Mother Mushroom Awarded Victims of Communism Human Rights Award

VOC Executive Director Marion Smith and VOC Chairman Dr. Lee Edwards present the Foundation's Human Rights Award to Mother Mushroom.

VOC Executive Director Marion Smith and VOC Chairman Dr. Lee Edwards present the Foundation's Human Rights Award to Mother Mushroom.

Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh, a.k.a. “Mother Mushroom," was awarded the Victims of Communism Human Rights Award for her bravery and her advocacy for human rights in Vietnam.

Quỳnh began blogging about social issues in Vietnam in 2006 under the pen name Mother Mushroom. Targeted by communist authorities for writing about corruption and human rights violations, she was arrested in 2009 for exposing government land appropriations under a China-backed mining deal. In October 2016, while trying to visit an imprisoned political activist, she was detained, jailed, and given a 10-year sentence for “propagandizing against the state.” Denied legal representation, Quỳnh went on hunger strike. In 2017, the US State Department gave her its International Women of Courage Award in absentia. On October 17, 2018, having served over two years in prison, she was released and allowed to travel to the United States, where she was reunited with her two children and elderly mother. They now live in Houston, Texas.


Members of Congress and Leading International Policymakers Respond

VOC Trustee Amb. Paula Dobriansky talks about the legacy of her father, Amb. Lev Dobriansky, who wrote the Captive Nations Week Resolution, adopted by Congress and signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in July 1959.

VOC Trustee Amb. Paula Dobriansky talks about the legacy of her father, Amb. Lev Dobriansky, who wrote the Captive Nations Week Resolution, adopted by Congress and signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in July 1959.

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Vietnam, gives keynote remarks at the Captive Nations Week Summit.

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Vietnam, gives keynote remarks at the Captive Nations Week Summit.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) remarked, "Currently, one-fifth of the world's population suffers under communist ruleWhether it is China's communist party persecuting Christians, Uyghurs, and Falun Gong practitioners, or Venezuela's military oppression under the illegitimate regime of Nicholas Maduro, or the Castros in Cuba who tortured my tía Sonia and so many more."

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) remarked, "I am proud to stand with you as the Co-Chair of the bipartisan Caucus for the Victims of Communism. This week is important to us as we come together to raise awareness of those suffering under the brutal tyranny around the world and how we can make a difference for millions longing for freedom."

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) recognized Mother Mushroom for receiving the Victims of Communism Human Rights Award and remarked, “We must oppose countries, like Vietnam, who deny their citizens their religious freedom.”


US-Recognized Venezuelan Ambassador Praises VOC

Amb. Carlos Vecchio, Ambassador of Venezuela to the United States of the US-recognized interim government of Juan Guaidó, speaks at the Captive Nations Week Summit.

Amb. Carlos Vecchio, Ambassador of Venezuela to the United States of the US-recognized interim government of Juan Guaidó, speaks at the Captive Nations Week Summit.

Amb. Carlos Vecchio, Ambassador of Venezuela to the United States of the US-recognized interim government of Juan Guaidó, speaks at the Captive Nations Week Summit.

Amb. Carlos Vecchio, Ambassador of Venezuela to the United States of the US-recognized interim government of Juan Guaidó remarked, "I remember when I arrived to exile, Victims of Communism was among the first organizations to support our fight."

"After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, more walls need to fall around the world. The fight to defeat the Venezuelan dictatorship is an opportunity to tear down now and forever the wall of communism in Latin America. We need to free Venezuela and ensure that Latin America is a free continent, with freedom and dignity for all."


OAS Sec. Gen. Almagro Links Venezuela Crisis to Cuba

OAS Sec. Gen. Luis Almagro delivers keynote at the Captive Nations Week Summit.

OAS Sec. Gen. Luis Almagro delivers keynote at the Captive Nations Week Summit.

Secretary General Luis Almagro remarked, “For 60 years, Cuba has been and is the poster child of a captive nation. The communist Cuban regime not only represses, enslaves, tortures, assassinates, persecutes, intimidates, and forces into exile its own people, but it also exports and expands their totalitarian practices to the rest of the region. It is not a coincidence that a new dictatorship emerged in the 21st century in Latin America. All bad practices in the region can be traced back to Cuba, and they are specially to blame for the Venezuelan crisis. If we want a hemisphere with no captive nations and no captive peoples, then we should do everything we can to democratize Cuba.


Summit Features Three Panels

Huy Nguyen and Gymbay Moua

Huy Nguyen and Gymbay Moua

Rushan Abbas and Bob Fu

Rushan Abbas and Bob Fu

Dr. Carlos Ponce and John Suarez

Dr. Carlos Ponce and John Suarez

Greg Scarlatoiu and Dr. Suzanne Scholte

Greg Scarlatoiu and Dr. Suzanne Scholte

Captive Nations of Latin America

  • John Suarez, Center for a FREE Cuba, Executive Director

  • Dr. Carlos Ponce, VOC, Director of Latin American Programs

  • María C. Werlau, Cuba Archive, Executive Director

  • Ana Quintana, The Heritage Foundation, Senior Policy Analyst

Captive Nations of China and North Korea

  • Rushan Abbas, Campaign for Uyghurs, Founder & Director

  • Bob Fu, ChinaAid, President

  • Greg Scarlatoiu, Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, Executive Director

  • Dr. Suzanne Scholte, Defense Forum Foundation, President

  • Olivia Enos, The Heritage Foundation, Senior Policy Analyst

Captive Nations of South East Asia

  • Gymbay Moua, Congress of World Hmong People

  • Huy Nguyen, Next Generations of the Republic of Vietnam Organization, President

  • Dr. Hung Tran, Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, Member

  • Dr. Murray Bessette, VOC, Director of Academic Programs


Victims of Venezuela's Dictatorship Photo Exhibition

Opening reception attendees view the "Victims of Venezuela's Dictatorship" photo exhibition at the OAS on Monday, July 8.

Opening reception attendees view the "Victims of Venezuela's Dictatorship" photo exhibition at the OAS on Monday, July 8.

On Monday, July 8, the "Victims of Venezuela's Dictatorship" photo exhibition—photos from award-winning photographers covering the humanitarian crisis and the crimes against humanity in Venezuela—premiered at the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, D.C. The exhibition was co-hosted by Freedom House, the Organization of American States, Un Mundo Sin Mordaza, and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

Speakers at the opening reception included OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, Organization of American States Ambassador and Venezuelan Representative Gustavo Tarre, VOC Executive Director Marion Smith, and President of Un Mundo Sin Mordaza Rodrigo Diamanti.