WHEREAS the Baltic American Freedom League (BAFL) was founded in February 1981 by Baltic American activists to unite the Baltic community in the United States, helping to raise American consciousness about Baltic issues and realizing specific and concrete goals toward achieving freedom for the Soviet-occupied Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania;
WHEREAS, in 1982 BAFL realized the goal of a U.S. Congressional joint resolution, asking President Ronald W. Reagan to designate June 14, 1982 as Baltic Freedom Day– reiterating U.S. non-recognition of the forcible and illegal incorporation of the Baltic Republics into the U.S.S.R. and appealing for the freedom of the Baltic countries –broadcast in 14 languages behind the Iron Curtain by Radio Liberty and adopted by Congress annually until Baltic independence was regained;
WHEREAS, on May 23, 1982 BAFL inaugurated annual Human Rights conferences as a forum for a wide range of issues affecting the American public and the Soviet-occupied Baltic countries, with influential guest speakers such as Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Elliot Abrams whose keynote address at the 1984 conference, predicting Baltic freedom, was published as an official State Department document and credited for reviving the Baltic cause in Europe;
WHEREAS, on June 13, 1983, BAFL representatives in Washington, D.C. presented Dr. John Lenczowski, Director of European and Soviet Affairs, National Security Council, recommendations for President Reagan regarding issues of immediate importance to the Baltic nations–as a result of which the President sent a letter to all members of the United Nations, explaining why the U.S. did not recognize the forcible annexation of the Baltic Republics by the Soviet Union;
WHEREAS, following the downing of South Korean airliner KAL-007 by Soviet jets, killing 269 people, BAFL instigated action to call attention to the U.S.S.R.’s continued violation of human rights and disregard of international law by preventing the unloading of cargo from a Soviet freighter in Long Beach, California, and participating in a widespread boycott of Russian vodka;
WHEREAS action by BAFL in concert with the Ban the Soviets Coalition national petition drive to bar Soviet athletes from participating in the 1984 Olympic Games and/or offering defecting athletes sanctuary in Los Angeles–a singularly effective form of sanction and condemnation for the Soviet downing of South Korean airliner KAL-007–drew international attention to Soviet oppression of human rights in the Baltic countries when the Soviets withdrew from the games;
WHEREAS, in the fall of 1989, a BAFL delegation presented a memorandum in meetings with officials of the State Department and White House Assistant Director of Liaison Scott Sutherland, urging that the U.S. Government take a proactive role in supporting self-determination and the restoration of independence in the Baltic states–setting the stage for a private White House conference on April 4, 1990 with President George H. W. Bush and the Baltic American leadership to discuss U.S. policy and the rapidly changing events in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania–followed by a press conference, highlights of which were broadcast and printed nationwide and in Europe;
WHEREAS, in February 1997, to establish close contacts and friendship with members of Congress, BAFL initiated creation of the Baltic Caucus in the House of Representatives, while the Joint Baltic American National Committee created the Baltic Freedom Caucus in the Senate;
WHEREAS, on March 20, 1999, at a BAFL awards banquet in Los Angeles, Representative Dennis Kucinich and Representative John Shimkus, co-chairmen of the Baltic Caucus in the House of Representatives, were presented with Baltic Freedom Awards and with a memorandum detailing BAFL issues and concerns, including Baltic membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), economic and military support for the Baltic countries, demilitarization of Koenigsberg (Kaliningrad), controlling and minimizing unjust demands of the OSCE High Commissioner for the Nationalities in Estonia, and Latvia, and condemnation of the Hitler-Stalin Pact;
WHEREAS, during 1999-2003, with the support of influential members of Congress, BAFL efforts from phone calls to letter writing to personal contacts helped secure sponsorship of joint resolutions in the campaign to gain Baltic membership in NATO, effecting soon-to-be-realized closure on the consequences of the Hitler-Stalin Pact and the Tehran and Yalta conferences–garnering official NATO Membership Commemorative Medals from the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Latvia, publicly presented to each member of the BAFL Board of Directors;
WHEREAS, due to the combined efforts of BAFL and other Baltic organizations, the U.S. Senate passed S. Con. Res. 35 on May 19, 2005, and the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously adopted H. Res. 128 on July 22, 2005–historic resolutions stating that “it is the sense of Congress that the Government of the Russian Federation should issue a clear and unambiguous statement of admission and condemnation of the illegal occupation and annexation by the Soviet Union from 1940 to 1991 of the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the consequences of which will be a significant increase in good will among the affected people”;
WHEREAS since November 17, 2008 , the citizens of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have been able to travel freely to the U.S. without visa requirements, thanks to BAFL and other Baltic organizations whose dedicated and persistent work overcame strong opposition and persuaded the U.S. to expand its Visa Waiver Program to include the Baltic countries, among others;
WHEREAS, responding to a wave of righteous indignation by BAFL and other organizations, the National D-Day Memorial Foundation in August 2010 removed a bust of Joseph Stalin, which it had installed at a main entrance to the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, created to honor American GIs for their valor, fidelity and sacrifice against heavily fortified German positions during the invasion of Normandy, France on June 6, 1944, in World war II;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Baltic American Freedom League at its Annual Membership Meeting on March 12, 2011, assembled, to express gratitude to the founders of the League, to those who have served on its Board of Directors and Executive Committee, to those who have participated in its activities, to those who have supported it financially, and to its membership during the past 30 years; and, resolving to continue to help uphold and defend the freedom and independence of the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania as long as there is a need and means for it.
Adopted by the Baltic American Freedom League on March 12, 2011, Los Angeles, California.