Natan Sharansky said Friday that human rights abuses in the Soviet Union are as important a “moral issue” as in South Africa.
He made his comments to the annual convention of the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Washington Hilton Hotel.
Sharansky, who was allowed to leave the Soviet Union a year ago, said his release as well as the recent release of other Soviet Jews “doesn’t mean a change in the principles of the (Soviet) system. Did it make it easier for people to leave the Soviet Union? Did it make any liberalization? You really have to say no.”
The former refusenik, who received a standing ovation from the 300 persons attending, criticized those who advocate economic sanctions against South Africa because of the apartheid system, but seek a closer relationship with the Soviet Union.
“It (human rights in the Soviet Union) is also an important moral issue. Why should we be satisfied with the release of one person when 400,000 Jews and many non-Jews are suffering and their elementary human rights are denied?” he said.
Sharansky was introduced by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who described him as “an international figure for peace and liberty” who “stared the Soviet Union in the face and they blinked.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.