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Civil Rights Leader Urges Thant Intervene for Soviet Jews

Civil rights leader Bayard Rustin is seeking United Nations help for nine Soviet Jews who last year signed a plea to Secretary General U Thant for his aid in their efforts to go to Israel and are now serving prison sentences for alleged “anti-Soviet activity.” Six of them were among the defendants in the second Leningrad trial of Jews last May, whose appeal for reduction of their sentences was denied July 20 by the Supreme Court of the Russian Republic. The remaining three were among Jewish activists tried and sentenced in Kishinev in June. Rustin, chairman of a Commission of Inquiry on the Rights of Soviet Jews, transmitted nearly four pounds of Commission documents to U Thant with a covering letter that told the story of the petition and the subsequent arrests and trials and summarized the content of eyewitness testimony on the harassment of Soviet Jewry. The documents included the official police report of a search of the home of one of the defendants in the Kishinev trial, David Chernoglaz, sentenced to 6 years, who had signed the petition.

Rustin wrote: “Through a description of the papers impounded there–Jewish history books, Israeli newspapers, Hebrew texts, letters of appeal–the character of the alleged crimes becomes clear.” The imprisonment, he said, came because of the defendants’ “determination to perpetuate their Jewish heritage and to actively seek exit permits for Israel.” Rustin said he was writing to the Secretary General “because you personify for world public opinion the commitment of the United Nations to the advancement of human rights, international understanding and peace.”

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