The Second International Sakharov hearings ended in Rome today after four days of testimony from lawyers, jurists, dissidents and clergymen on civil, economic and religious liberties in the Soviet Union and allied countries of Eastern Europe.
The Second International Sakharov hearings ended in Rome today after four days of testimony from lawyers, jurists, dissidents and clergymen on civil, economic and religious liberties in the Soviet Union and allied countries of Eastern Europe. The hearings began friday, November 25 when the audience heard from expelled dissidents about infringement on civil and political rights.
The hearings, named after Soviet nobel Prize winning physicist Andrei Sakharov were first instituted in 1975 in the Danish parliament at Copenhagan and on that occasion were primarily concerned with loss of liberties in the Soviet Union. This second hearing focused on the Soviet allied countries. The first day of the hearings in Rome centred their attention on repressions and stifling of basic civil and political rights,; on Saturday the audience listened to a brilliant testimony from Valentin Turcin, physician former president of the Russian chapter of Amnesty International and expelled from Russia last month, on limitations to economic liberties. Mr. Turcin and other including Jan Lestinskij, a member of the Czech group "Charter 77", said that people in the Soviet Union and allied countries complain of malnutrition and hunger. Turcin also said that economic pressure are brought to bear on dissidents and those who complain about the system. Turcin himself lost his job after publicly defending Andrei Sakharov.
On Sunday, The hearings focused on questions related to religious liberties. Cardinal Josef Slipyi, primate of the Ukraine said that at least 1,500 priests have been killed in his country alone and thousands of Catholics have been sent to lagers.
He said "Before the war there were 3,040 parishes with 4,595 churches. Now there aren't any churches, and monasteries, no catholic schools - in short, all religions activity is forbidden."
Other testimonials confirmed that other religious groups, and not simply the Catholics are harassed in the Soviet bloc countries.
On the final day of the hearings Western lawyers acting for prominent Soviet dissidents presented evidence of persecution and ??? Lawyers from the USA, France, and England said today that they would hold parallel trials in London and New York if they were barred from defending their jailed clients in Moscow.
The lawyers said they would prove that their clients were innocent and were simply being persecuted by the USSR for their actions in defense liberties and basic human rights.
The lawyers, Mr Gregory Craig of New York defending Aleksander Ginzburg of the Helsinki monitoring group, John McDonald of London, defending Jurij Orlov, Patrice Merville and Francois Morette of France, defending Sviad ??? and Merab Kostava, also of the Helsinki monitoring group all told how they had been denied ??? to the Soviet union enabling them to defend their clients.
On the opening day messages sent by Andrei Sakhaorv and Alexander Solznets urged that the Western world open its eyes to the horrors of the ??? and the persecutions of those clamouring ??? has human rights in the Soviet Union and allied countries.