WHEREAS, on June 14-15, 1941, a year after the Soviet occupation of the Baltic Republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, over 40,000 people from all three countries were taken from their homes at gunpoint in the middle of the night, locked in freight cars and deported to slave labor camps in Siberia and elsewhere in the Soviet Union, where many were executed and most perished in inhumane conditions;
WHEREAS, successive waves of mass deportations and decades of oppression and loss of freedom followed the Soviet re-occupation of the Baltic States after World War II, the Baltic people in their homelands and those who found refuge in the West never wavered in their determination against enormous odds to reclaim Estonia’s, Latvia’s, and Lithuania’s rightful place in the world community of free nations;
WHEREAS, in the United States, Baltic American Freedom League, founded in February 1981, realized the goal of a U.S. Congressional joint resolution, asking President Ronald Reagan to designate June 14, 1982, as Baltic freedom Day–reiterating U.S. nonrecognition of the forcible and illegal annexation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania by the U.S.S.R., and appealing for their freedom and self-determination through peaceful means–a Baltic renaissance milestone that reverberated throughout Europe;
WHEREAS, with the concerted efforts of Baltic Americans, the Baltic Freedom Day resolution was adopted by Congress annually until Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania regained their independence in 1991, following four years of intense but peaceful struggle in the Baltic countries–nevertheless, at the cost of 23 Lithuanian and 8 Latvian lives–presaging, indeed contributing to the dissolution of the Soviet Union;
WHEREAS, the demise of the Soviet Union initially promised democracy and free elections in Russia, increasingly authoritarian rule under Vladimir Putin has fostered growing discontent and peaceful mass protest demonstrations against the leadership, calling for fair elections and freedom of speech–values espoused by the Baltic-American relationship and echoed by Stanislav Belkovsky, president of the National Strategy Institute, a Moscow-based think tank, February 2012, “The Kremlin. . . Will be obligated to go the way of sweeping political reform, with Putin eventually stepping down and removing himself from the political scene and Russia reformatting itself as a modern state adhering to European values”;
WHEREAS, the Baltic people and the American people have made common cause with shared values–democracy, human rights, rule of law, political equality, free elections, limited government of the governed, freedom of press, speech, assembly, and religion–that unite them as trusted friends and allies,
Now, therefore, be it
strong>RESOLVED, by the Baltic American Freedom League at its annual membership Meeting on March 3, 2012, assembled, in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the designation of June 14, 1982, as Baltic Freedom Day by President Ronald Reagan, Baltic American Freedom League urges the people of Russia, demonstrating against increasing authoritarianism and for true democracy, to stand firm in their courageous resolve to shake off the shackles of the dark past and to promulgate the shared values that unite the Baltic people, the American people, and freedom loving people worldwide.
Adopted by the Baltic American Freedom League on March 3, 2012, in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.