Freedom of Emigration Measure Sponsored by 30 Senators

The Senate received yesterday “a freedom of emigration” resolution sponsored by 30 Senators. It expresses the concern of the American people over the treatment of Jews and other minorities in the Soviet Union and urges the Soviet government to comply with the Helsinki declaration’s human rights provision.

The resolution was introduced by Sen. Frank Church (D. Idaho) who said that Rep. Toby Moffet (D. Conn) will introduce a similar resolution in the House where 70 members have already expressed support for it. “The continued harassment of Soviet Jews and other minorities seeking to reunite with their families makes this resolution imperative.” Church told the Senate.

Urging Congress to reaffirm its commitment to the spirit of the Helsinki declaration, Church said that as “a co-signer of the Helsinki declaration, the U.S. government must continue to press the Soviet government for compliance with the accord.” He said the Soviet Union is preventing thousands from leaving and that this is a violation of its international agreements.

Sen. Abraham Ribicoff (D. Conn), supporting the resolution, said that the Helsinki treaty of 1975 called on all participating nations to respect human rights, including the right of free emigration. Instead, Ribicoff said, Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union has actually declined because of Soviet policy. He said the number of persons allowed to leave the USSR last year was under 12,000 which he said, represents about a third of the number allowed to emigrate in 1974. Ribicoff said that 77 Jews are still detained in Soviet prison camps while 200-300 more are under house arrest in Moscow and Leningrad.

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