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World Medical Association Refuses to Act on Behalf of 18 Riga Doctors, Nurses

The World Medical Association, based here, has declined to take unilateral action in response to a plea from 18 Jewish doctors and nurses of Riga, Soviet Latvia, for aid in emigrating for Israel. A spokesman for the association told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that under its by laws it could not act in such a case unless asked to by the associated medical group in the country in question–in this case the USSR Union of Sanitary Workers or one of the various Soviet scientific and medical academies. The spokesman conceded that government strictures would probably prevent such institutions from sponsoring the Jewish doctors’ appeal. But she said the appeal–one of several in recent years–had been forwarded to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for action.

The letter was forwarded to the World Medical Association by the Israel Medical Association, one of its members, after it had arrived too late for consideration by the Third International Conference on Care of Public Health, Great Britain-Edinburgh, held in the Scottish city in September. In addition, the British Medical Association replied to the Riga 18 and forwarded their request to the Soviet Embassy in London and to the president of the Soviet Academy of Sciences in Moscow. The Riga plea stated that “An extreme sense of despair has forced us to appeal to this great (Edinburgh) forum with a call for help.” The petitioners said they had “appealed over the years to Soviet authorities with the request to be allowed to go to our homeland in Israel to join our relatives,” but had been met with “constant refusals.” Declaring that “only on the soil of our homeland can we live full lives.” the Latvians asked for help to “fulfill our unchallengeable right, the right of free men to live in the land of their forefathers.”

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