NEW YORK (Sep. 7)
Members of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry today staged a Rosh Hashanah eve “call to conscience” shofar ceremony at Aeroflot Russian Airlines’ Fifth Avenue offices to coincide with the gathering of 35 nations in Madrid to sign the final document of the Helsinki Agreement.
The SSSJ called for the expulsion of Soviet diplomats and the shutdown of Aeroflot’s U.S. offices as a “minimum” response to the Soviet downing of the KAL jumbo jet and its continued “flouting of the very human rights provisions of the Helsinki Agreement which is being reconfirmed today in Madrid.”
“The Kremlin’s brutality against 269 innocent foreigners gives us an understanding of its current campaign to liquidate the Jewish community in the USSR, ” the SSSJ said.
As the blasts of the shofar resounded on Fifth Avenue, the SSSJ also released a statement made yesterday by Avital Shcharansky wife of Prisoner of Conscience Anatoly Shcharansky, at a press conference at the Helsinki Agreement review conference in Madrid.
She was joined by Elana Friedman, sister of former POC Ida Nudel, currently exiled from Moscow to Moldavia; Chaim Margolis, friend of POC Dr. Joseph Begun, who is about to stand trial; and Sonya Lerner, daughter of leading Soviet Jewish refusenik Dr. Alexander Lerner of Moscow, who celebrates his 70th birthday today, separated from his family.
Mrs. Shcharansky declared; “I have also come to Madrid as a representative, as a delegation, for those whose human rights are being violated daily in the Soviet Union. More than 10,000 Jews who seven years ago and earlier have asked to leave the USSR are still being denied the freedom to emigrate.
“One of these people, surrounded by the walls of Chistipol Prison, is my husband. He has refused to sign a confession to his so-called crime even though his captors promised him his freedom. He has refused to sign his name to a lie though he suffers daily physical torment because of his refusal.
“Those who are willing to sign an agreement with the Soviet Union on human rights while Anatoly and others are imprisoned, those who are willing to sit in silence as a Soviet representative cynically proclaims his nation’s commitment to basic freedoms, while his government prepares pogroms, beatings and intimidation of innocents, have become partners in a conspiracy against the truth.
“Our delegation, representing those this conference is all about, calls upon the Western democracies to demand a commitment from the Soviet Union promising the immediate release of Shcharansky and all the other Prisoners for Zion. We have reason to believe that a failure to attain such a promise will lead to further repressions. The blood of the innocent will be on our hands.”