Soviet Jewish Refuseniks Appeal to Congress for Help

A group of Soviet Jewish refuseniks have appealed to Congress for help against what they see as a plan by the Soviet government to end emigration.

The appeal was presented to Congress by Sen. Charles Mathias (R. Md.), who along with Sen. Alan Cranston (D. Cal.), received the appeal during their recent visit to Moscow.

Mathias noted that “human tragedies” are obscured by the clash between nations and ideologies. “But occasionally, if we peer into the quiet places where people seek refuge, we can witness the painful experiences of men and women caught in the trap of tyranny,” he said.

“It is absolutely evident now that for the last two years there has been a radical switch in the emigration policy of the Soviet Union,” the appeal from the Soviet Jews declared. It offered “convincing proof of an obvious trend not only to sharply diminish Jewish emigration to Israel” but also of “an attempt or even decision … to stop emigration altogether.”

The refuseniks said their proof included “a sharp upturn in the number of refusals”; a drastic drop in emigration over the last two years; “the waiting period of consideration of applications is unreasonably prolonged and in most cases has been stretched to as much as two years and more”; invitation affidavits from families abroad are not delivered and many refuseniks are being arrested.

ALL FORMS OF JEWISH LIFE FORBIDDEN

“All forms of Jewish life are completely for bidden by now,” the refuseniks charged. “All seminars on Jewish humanities, mathematics, physics and religion and Hebrew studies are strictly forbidden. Their leaders and participants are summoned to the KGB and warned very roughly that if they try to go on leading and participating in seminars, they will immediately be arrested and exiled.

“Seminar gatherings are dispersed by crude force by the police and those attending are punished. Even the celebration of our Jewish holidays in the suburbs of Moscow are declared Zionist roundups and as such are severely punished.”

The Soviet Jews urged Congress to press for an end to the restrictions on emigration and to urge the Soviet government to release all Prisoners of Conscience and allow them to join their families in Israel. “If no real help will come from the West and your country, in particular, these people (the refuseniks) face the danger of eternal refusal,” the appeal declared.

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