WASHINGTON (Feb. 24)
A group of Soviet refuseniks have called for a worldwide hunger strike to mark the 27th Communist Party Congress in Moscow this week, the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (UCSJ) reported.
The 13 refuseniks, who are mostly from Moscow and Kishinev and include Simon Shnirman, a recently released Prisoner of Conscience, issued an appeal in which they said they “have lost hope of achieving our right to emigrate to Israel resulting from Soviet and international law through Soviet internal affairs offices.”
The declaration made no reference to the recent release and emigration to Israel of Prisoner of Conscience Anatoly Shcharansky at part of an exchange of prisoners with the West. Shcharansky himself has expressed skepticism about the suggestion that his release might be the first step toward a significant relaxation of Soviet policy on Jewish emigration, and organizations involved in Soviet Jewry have stressed the need to continue the campaign until all who seek to leave are permitted to do so.
The group of refuseniks who issued the declaration called on the 27th Soviet Communist Party Congress which convenes February 26 to “be concerned with this problem and to authorize our emigration to Israel.”
They noted that while Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has said in interviews on French television that only those possessing state secrets may be detained in the Soviet Union for five to 10 years, some of the refuseniks have never had access to state secrets and others had such access well over ten years ago.
Morey Schapira, president of the UCSJ, called on Americans to join in a global hunger strike on February 26, in order to demonstrate solidarity with Soviet Jews and to keep up pressure on Moscow.