Sat. Jul 13th, 2024
Secretary Antony J. Blinken’s Video Remarks at U.S. Hostage and Wrongful Detainee Day Event

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Welcome to the inaugural U.S. Hostage and Wrongful Detainee Day. 

Today, the State Department, the White House, and federal buildings across our nation’s capital are displaying the yellow and black U.S. Hostage and Wrongful Detainee Flag for the first time.  A flag that reads: “Bring them home.” 

That’s the mission we commit ourselves to – today and every day.

In my pocket, I carry a list with the name of every American who is held hostage or unjustly detained. 

Over the past three years, I’ve been able to cross 46 names off that list, 

as we secured the release of Americans.  Today, we celebrate their freedom – and the joy and relief it’s brought to their loved ones.

And yet, we also mark yet another day of grave injustice – another day when dozens of our fellow citizens are held without cause by foreign governments, terrorist groups, and other non-state actors – without their rights and apart from their families.  

Families who, month by month, minute by minute, endure the agony of not knowing where their loved one is being held whether they are suffering or when they will see them again. 

To those families, several of whom are here today, know this: We will keep fighting for your family members as if it they were our own.  We will not give up – ever.

And we will keep expanding and strengthening the tools we have to get your loved ones back. 

Many are tools you advocated for and helped shape. Like the Hostage Recovery Group, which brings together the State Department, the White House, the intelligence community, and other parts of our government to coordinate our efforts to free unjustly detained Americans and provide support for their families.  And like the 2020 Robert Levinson Act, which passed with bipartisan Congressional support, and empowers us to impose additional financial penalties and travel restrictions on the perpetrators of this heinous practice. 

We’ve teamed up with Canada to lead a group of more than 70 countries who have endorsed a declaration against arbitrary detention by states, and who strive to stand together against any government that uses foreign nationals as bargaining chips. 

The more countries who join us in applying pressure, the more we raise the cost on perpetrators, and the more we force them to think twice before detaining additional innocent people.  And that’s crucial to ensuring no one else has to live through this nightmare.  

Every day that we fight for the release of unjustly detained Americans – whether that “we” is our government, a community, a family, or an individual – we show who we are, and what we value most.  Our freedom.  Our humanity.  And our readiness to bring to bear the strength of an entire nation to defend the rights of a single citizen.   

So, thank you all for being there for our fellow Americans when they need us most, for showing who we are, and for working with us to bring our people home.

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originally published at Politics - JISIP NEWS