WASHINGTON (Jul. 30)
Secretary of State George Shultz cited today human rights violations against Jews and others in the Soviet Union as evidence that despite some achievements, "the most important promises" of the Helsinki Accords have not been kept.
"If any single lesson emerges from the history of the (Helsinki) Final Act’s first 10 years, it is precisely that the interests of individual human beings are a fundamental part of security and stability in Europe," Shultz said at the ceremonies in Helsinki marking the 10th anniversary of the signing of the agreement. "Greater security and a more stable peace among our nations, depends on greater freedom for the people of Europe."
SPECIFIC EXAMPLES CITED
In his speech, copies of which were made available by the State Department here, Shultz listed specific examples. "In the Final Act, we all committed ourselves to treat in a positive and humanitarian way the applications of persons who wish to be reunited with members of their family," the Secretary said. "Yet, over the past five years, the number of Soviet citizens of Jewish nationality permitted to emigrate mainly for family reunification, fell from over 51,000 to 896."
Shultz noted that the Moscow group established to monitor the Helsinki Accords disbanded in 1982 "for fear of further persecution." He pointed out that many of its leaders were imprisoned, including Anatoly Shcharansky, who he said, was "imprisoned on a false charge in 1977, has completed his term in the notorious Chistopol prison and is now serving out the rest of his 13-year sentence in one of the most brutal of Soviet labor camps."
As for the religious freedom guaranteed by the Helsinki Accords, all who would live an active and religious life, according to their faith, whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim risk harassment, imprisonment or confinement in psychiatric institutions," Shultz said.
‘TRUMPED UP CRIMINAL CHARGES’ NOTED
Listing the harassment against Jews, Shultz said, "At least 16 Jewish cultural activists, including nine teachers of the Hebrew language, have been arrested in the Soviet Union since last July and many have been convicted on obviously trumped up criminal charges to three to four years of imprisonment and labor camps.
"losif Berenshtein, currently serving a four year term, was savagely beaten and stabbed while in prison and lost most of his vision. Yuli Edelshtein, who is serving a three year term, is reportedly undergoing repeated beatings in his labor camp in Siberia as part of an effort ‘to exorcise his religious fanaticism,’ according to camp authorities."
Shultz listed not only the cases of Jewish and Christian activists who have been imprisoned, but also that of a Muslim. "Abuzakar Rahimov, a Muslim from Tashkent in Soviet central Asia, was sentenced to seven years in a strict regime labor camp in 1982 for distributing material about the Islamic faith including translations from the Koran," Shultz said.
The subject of human rights is also expected to be raised by Shultz when he meets tomorrow with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze.