WASHINGTON (Oct. 18)
President Reagan today strongly condemned the Soviet Union for the 12-year sentence against Jewish activist losif Begun, calling it an “illegal and inhumane act.”
In a statement issued at the White House, Reagan accused the Soviet Union of “launching a new campaign of repression against human rights activists” after it had made a commitment to respect human rights “nearly a month” ago at the Madrid conference on compliance with the human rights clauses of the Helsinki accords, of which the Soviet Union is a signatory.
Calling Begun a “courageous Jewish believer,” Reagan said “Soviet persecution of religious and political dissidents is not new. In the case of Mr. Begun the Soviet regime has refused for 13 years to honor his request to emigrate to Israel.”
Reagan said that “Soviet policy toward Jewish emigration and dissident movements has sunk to a new low of brutality and repression. Anti-Semitism has escalated dramatically as has harassment of other human rights defenders.” He said that a Lithuanian Catholic priest, Father Sigitas Tamkevicius, “is facing a similar fate” to Begun and Oleg Radzinsiy, a Soviet peace activist, has been held for almost a year.
“We condemn these illegal and inhumane acts,” Reagan said.” We hold the Soviet Union accountable for its violations of numerous international agreements and accords on human rights to which it is a party. We call upon the Soviets to reverse their inhumane policies and to prove to the world they will back up their words with action, and start living up to their agreements.”