ROME (Aug. 29)
Soviet Jews protesting the refusal of American visas went into the sixth day of their hunger strike here Tuesday. But public interest in their cause appears to have faded.
The protesters are sitting on lounge chairs and mattresses along the fashionable Via Veneto, across the street from the U.S. Embassy.
They are surrounded by placards, in English and Italian, which tell their story with such slogans as “We are victims of arbitrariness,” “We are abandoned” and “Reunite me with my family.”
But the throngs of onlookers and supporters who have been encouraging and demonstrating with them for the past week — and numbered nearly 600 at one point Monday — failed to materialize as of Tuesday noon.
The hunger strikers are the vanguard of about 400 Soviet Jewish emigres who have been twice rejected for visas to enter the United States as refugees. They refuse to go to Israel, which already has granted them entry visas.
An embassy employee was quoted as saying that the hunger strike has accomplished nothing but to dramatize their situation.