On Friday, Afghan police officers discovered the bodies of 10 medical aid workers who were killed in the northern Badakhshan Province.  Six were American.  The Taliban has proudly claimed responsibility for this despicable act of wanton violence.
 
These men and women were in the region to deliver free medical care to impoverished Afghan villagers, according to the NGO they were working with.  They were doctors, nurses, and medical technicians, and their mission was humanitarian and wholly independent from that of any government.  Before their deaths, they had spent several days treating cataracts and other eye conditions in the Nuristan Province.  At their next stop, they planned to run a dental clinic and offer maternal and infant health care.  They were unarmed.  They were not being paid for their services.  They had traveled to this distant part of the world because they wanted to help people in need.  They were guests of the Afghan people. 
 
The Taliban stopped them on a remote road on their journey from Nuristan, led them into a forest, robbed them, and killed them.
 
We are heartbroken by the loss of these heroic, generous people.  We condemn in the strongest possible terms this senseless act.   We also condemn the Taliban’s transparent attempt to justify the unjustifiable by making false accusations about their activities in Afghanistan.
 
Terror has no religion, and these acts are rejected by people all over the world, including by Muslims here in the United States.  The Taliban’s cruelty is well-documented.  Its members have assassinated tribal elders and thrown acid in the face of young girls.  Earlier this summer, they accused a 7-year-old boy of spying and hung him.  With these killings, they have shown us yet another example of the lengths to which they will go to advance their twisted ideology. 
 
The murdered medical aid workers, as well as the volunteers from many nations and the international coalition working to establish stability in Afghanistan, represent exactly what the Taliban stands against:  a future of peace, freedom, opportunity, and openness, where all Afghans can live and work together in harmony, free from terror.
 
That is what we are working to achieve in Afghanistan, in partnership with the Afghan people.  As we mourn the loss of these aid workers, we will continue with our own efforts, inspired by their example.

American officials and Americans around the world are expressing their condolences to Poland. After his phone call with Prime Minister Donald Tusk, President Barack Obama said, “President Kaczynski was a distinguished statesman who played a key role in the Solidarity movement, and he was widely admired in the United States as a leader dedicated to advancing freedom and human dignity … Today, there are heavy hearts across America.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton phoned Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, and commented “Lost alongside President Kaczynski and his wife were Polish leaders from across the political spectrum, men and women who shaped and sped Poland’s post-1989 democratic transformation and were leading Poland into its promising future … The United States stands with the Polish people in this difficult hour.” On the afternoon of April 10, Ambassador Lee Feinstein laid a wreath at the Presidential Palace and personally delivered his condolences to the Presidential Chancellery. Referring to the victims of today’s tragedy, Ambassador Feinstein said, “Their inspirational leadership and the memory of their courageous sacrifice shine as an example for future generations of Poles, Americans, and friends of democracy around the world. Our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones at this tragic and painful time.”

Statement by President Obama

Statement by Secretary Clinton

Statement by Ambassador Feinstein

Statement by Secretary of Defense Gates

Statement by the U.S. Helsinki Commission

Statement by General David Petraeus, Commander U.S. Army

Statement by Admiral James Stavridis Commander, U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe

Statement by Madeleine K. Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State, now Chairman, National Democratic Institute

Statement by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is in Germany today to mark the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, an event that symbolizes the collapse of communism throughout Europe, a process in which Poland played a leading role. To mark this historic event, the Atlantic Council hosted the “Freedom’s Challenge: A Gala Banquet and Awards Ceremony” yesterday in Berlin, which was attended by Lech Walesa on behalf of the Polish people.  Secretary Clinton attended the gala as keynote speaker.  View the Secretary’s Travel Diary Blog on visiting Berlin (in English).

Also view the Department of State’s International Information Program’s Publication: The Berlin Wall: 20 Years Later (in English), which highlights events that led to the collapse of communism in Poland and throughout Central and Eastern Europe. 

 “I Will Remember That Day All My Life” by Adam Michnik

Excerpt: “I wrote it was a great holiday: In the perennial struggle between man and barbed wire, today man triumphed and the barbed wire was defeated.”

“Those Were The Days, My Friend” by Anna Husarska

Excerpt: “November 9, 1989, is the date most potently associated with the end of the unjust oppression of half of Europe. But the Wall began to crack back in 1980 when the Polish trade union Solidarity was created at the Lenin shipyard in Gdansk…”

Legacy of 1989 Must Be Defended by Janusz Bugajski

Excerpt:  “Although Solidarity was temporarily stifled and driven underground, its mass membership and farsighted leadership demonstrated that the days of Soviet-imposed communism were numbered.”