2000 Rally for Shcharansky, Slepak
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2000 Rally for Shcharansky, Slepak

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Some 2,000 people jammed the Wall Street area today for a noontime rally on behalf of Anatoly Shcharansky and Mariya Slepak. The New York rally was one of many demonstrations held in cities throughout the country, at the call of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, to “protest the Soviet repression of Jewish emigration activists and those seeking basic human rights.”

Mervin Riseman, chairman of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry (GNYCSJ), told the enthusiastic crowd, “We are now in the crucial 30-day period during which Shcharansky may appeal his unjust sentence. It is incumbent on us to show the American people, the Carter Administration and Soviet authorities that we will keep the pressure on.” Referring to reports released this morning, that Mariya Slepak’s three-year sentence has been suspended, Riseman said “This substantiates our hope that continued pressure can make a difference.”

He expressed gratitude to President Carter for his support of Shcharansky but demanded that “Soviet-American trade and human rights must continue to be linked.” He called on university presidents throughout the country to join John Sawhill, of New York University, in severing ties with their Soviet colleagues and asked that all bilateral scientific and technological exchanges between the United States and the Soviet Union be discontinued until Shcharansky and other Soviet Jewish dissidents are freed.

Dr. Alan Dershowitz, a professor at Harvard Law School and Shcharansky’s official attorney in the U.S., disclosed that he had renewed his request to represent the 30-year-old activist before the Soviet Court of Appeals. Dershowitz proposed that, on each day of Shcharansky’s imprisonment, one of the organizations, corporations or law firms represented at today’s demonstration should sponsor an advertisement in a New York newspaper to ensure that Shcharansky’s plight is not forgotten by the press and the world at large.

He also urged those participating in the rally to continue sending letters of protest to the “Shcharansky Remembrance Fund” of the Committee of Concerned Scientists, and to President Carter and Leonid Brezhnev. “We cannot allow the world to forget Anatoly Shcharansky for even a single day,” he declared, “because that would play directly into the hands of his Soviet oppressors.”


Also addressing today’s rally were Bernice Tannenboum, president of Hadassah, and David Blumberg, international president of B’nai B’rith. Mrs. Tannenbaum stressed her organization’s solidarity with Soviet Jewish dissident Ida Nudel and announced the launching of a new “Ishah L’Ishah” project which would strengthen communications between Hadassah’s national leaders and “all women standing for the rights of Soviet Jews to emigrate.” Blumberg urged President Carter to impose restrictions upon trade with the USSR and called for the removal of the 1980 Olympics from Moscow.

The crowed, assembled at the corner of Wall and Broad streets, included many young people, most of them members of the National Federation of Temple Youth, who led the group in song and the chanting of slogans. Large delegations from the GNYCSJ, B’nai B’rith, Hadassah and the Jewish War Veterans were also present. The GNYCSJ announced that a special seminar focusing on the Soviet Union and human rights, cosponsored by the New York Coalition for Soviet Jewry and the American Bar Association (ABA), will be held Aug. 9 during the ABA annual convention at the Hilton Hotel.

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