21 marks the beginning of a new year in a bitter decade for the people of Afghanistan. This may well be a
climactic year, and we hope with the Afghan people that it will see the
complete withdrawal of Soviet troops and self-determination for the people of Afghanistan. For more than 8 years,
the courageous Afghans have suffered and died under the boot of the Soviet
Army, which invaded to prop up an illegitimate, unrepresentative, and
discredited regime. Let us take this occasion, therefore, to remember the
sorrow and to salute the heroism of the Afghan people. They have fought
valiantly and against heavy odds to free themselves from the yoke of oppression
-- from assaults on their liberty, their sovereignty, their dignity, their
lives, and their very way of life.
now appears possible that the tenacity and tremendous sacrifices of the Afghan
people will bear fruit in the coming period. The Soviet leadership seems to
have finally recognized that the will of the Afghan people to be free cannot be
broken. Indications of Soviet willingness to withdraw are an important step
forward, though their seriousness can be proven only by the actual, and total,
removal of Soviet troops from Afghan soil. To be acceptable, Soviet withdrawal
must be complete, irreversible, and verifiable.
objectives have been and remain: prompt and complete withdrawal of Soviet
forces; restoration of Afghanistan to an independent,
nonaligned status; self-determination for the Afghans; and return of refugees
in safety and honor. I reiterated this commitment and our support for the brave
Afghan Mujahidin in my meeting last November with
Afghan Alliance leader YunisKhalis.
I said the same to General Secretary Gorbachev last December.
United States Government has also repeatedly told the Soviet leadership that
any guarantees of noninterference that they and we would undertake must be
symmetrical. An agreement at Geneva must not serve as a
pretext for continued Soviet military support to the discredited minority Kabul regime. Some 120
members of the United Nations have voted year after year for self-determination
in Afghanistan, recognizing that the
present government in Kabul does not represent the
Afghan people but is a direct result of outside interference. The Mujahidin and the refugees are the true voice of the Afghan
am proud of the strong support provided the Afghan cause over the past 7 years
by my Administration, by the United States Congress, and by the American people.
Our commitment to the freedom of the Afghan people will not end should the
Soviets withdraw. We will join other nations and international organizations to
help the Afghans rebuild their country and their institutions; millions of men,
women, and children will be returning to a country devastated by Soviet
United States has consistently
supported the Afghans in their long ordeal. That support will continue. We will
rejoice with them when true peace is achieved and Afghanistan once again takes its
rightful place in the community of nations. Let us pray and strive to make sure
that this moment of liberation will come soon.
Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of
America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the
Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March
as Afghanistan Day. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day
with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 21st day of March, in the
year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of
America the two hundred and
[Filed with the Office
of the Federal Register, , March 21, 1988]