NEW YORK (Apr. 10)
Avraham Zalmanson, a 50-year-old Israeli whose niece and nephews–Sylva Zalmanson, her husband Edward and her brothers Israel and Vulf–are serving long sentences in Soviet forced labor camps, began a hunger strike outside the United Nations today in the hope that by dramatizing their plight he could prompt the UN to intervene in their behalf.
Zalmanson, who emigrated from Russia to Israel in 1959 and lives in Bat Yam, called attention to his vigil by entering a mock-up four-foot square cell built against the Isaiah Wall facing UN headquarters, a facsimile of the cells in which his kin are confined. He said he would subsist on water. Zalmanson told a Jewish Telegraphic Agency reporter that he was a diabetic. He said that since the arrest of his family in Russia he had conducted eight hunger strikes, four of them at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. He told the JTA that he was not able to get police permission to remain in front of the UN overnight. He said he would leave at midnight and return the next morning. “I chose to have a hunger strike here because I want the UN to do something about this,” he said.
Zalmanson was being assisted by members of the American Jewish Congress, the Zionist Organization of America and the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry. He was visited at noon by Israel’s UN Ambassador Yosef Tekoah who told him that he had discussed the matter of the Zalmanson family with UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim and would bring it up with Waldheim, again.
Sylva Zalmanson is serving a ten-year sentence at a strict regime labor camp in the Soviet Union. Her husband, Edward Kuznetsov is serving a 15-year sentence and her brother, Israel, an eight-year sentence. All were defendants in the first Leningrad hijack trial in Dec. 1970. Another brother, Vulf, who was tried separately, is serving a 10-year sentence at hard labor.