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Tyrannical leaders have from time immemorial their perverted theory that what they do to their own people is wholly their own business and that outsiders should keep their prying noses out of what the tyrants have declared to be "an internal matter." The truth is that no nation is an island. Humanity is indivisible. Discrimination exercised anywhere wounds the heart and soul of good men everywhere. It is time that Congress go on record urging that Russian Jews be allowed to openly and proudly practice their Jewish faith in the Soviet Union.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN J. RHODES, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ARIZONA
Mr. Chairman, it is an honor to come before this distinguished committee today to speak on behalf of House Concurrent Resolution 391, which I cosponsored.
We are all aware of the deplorable and inexcusable situation which chokes off basic human liberties in the Soviet Union. It is clear also that the repressive treatment of Jews and other minorities in the Soviet Union have not gone unnoticed by the other members of the world community. These Soviet actions are contrary to the most basic of human rights.
People of all cultural backgrounds, of all religious convictions, are entitled to the human right to enjoy their heritage and practice their religion, and there is a basic right to emigrate to countries of their choice.
This concurrent resolution calls for a governmental commitment to express our national concern over the Soviet oppression of religious and cultural freedom. It requests the President demand of the Soviet Government that it permit its citizens the right to emigrate to the countries of their choice, as affirmed by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and it calls upon the Department of State to raise in the General Assembly of the United Nations the issue of the Soviet Union's transgression of the Declaration of Human Rights.
The borders of the Soviet Union should not be prison walls, behind which human beings are stripped of fundamental human liberties. I strongly urge a favorable report on this resolution and support our Government's use of all available channels to convey the message carried therein.
STATEMENT OF HON. B. F. SISK, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. Chairman, I welcome the opportunity to appear before the subcommittee as a cosponsor of House Concurrent Resolution 934.
I think the fact that more than 90 Members of the House joined to introduce this resolution back in August illustrates the concern we have for the persecuted Jewish minority population in the Soviet Union.
Failure of the United States to express itself forcefully for the humanitarian treatment of minority peoples everywhere in the world could only be regarded by repressive governments as indifference.
The persecution and killing of millions of Jews in Europe during World War II has demonstrated that indifference or ignorance of humanitarian concern can only encourage barbarous treatment of minorities.
There is ample history of persecution in other parts of the world, where free nations were too late or too little in speaking out for oppressed minorities. This was the case in Turkey during the early part of this century when hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed and fled, many to this country, where they have enriched our culture and economy.
I understand the Soviet Constitution permits the free expression of ideas and the exercise of religion by all of its citizens. Now, these ideals are commendable if there is the same dedication applied to their practice.
The resolution asks the Soviet Government to permit the free expression of ideas and exercise of religion by all of its citizens in accordance with the Soviet Constitution; urges a formal and informal effort by the United States in contacts with Soviet officials to secure an end to religious discrimination; demands that the Soviet Government permit its people to emigrate to countries of their choice as guaranteed in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, and calls on the State Department to raise the issue of the Soviet's transgression of the declaration. The President will visit the Soviet Union next year. We hope he will take this message with him for Soviet leaders.
As the leader of the community of free nations, the United States must be ever alert and always aggressive to assure that the principles of humanitarian treatment to people are always observed.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM B. WIDNALL, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
As a sponsor of House Concurrent Resolution 393, I wish to express my concern over Soviet treatment of its Jewish citizens.
The Congress is in an awkward position on this matter for two reasons. First, there is a lack of complete and accurate information about the problems of Soviet Jews. Second, there is the familiar charge that we are intervening in the private affairs of another nation.
I hope, though, that these hearings will further broadcast to the world the ongoing interest of the United States in assisting the persecuted and disadvantaged wherever they may be. We can add our voice to the outcry and exert moral pressure on the Soviet Union to respect the basic human rights of its Jewish citizens, especially the right to emigrate.
The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights was signed by the Soviet Union. Article 2 provides "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." Article 13 affirms everyone's right to leave his country. Article 14 gives the right to seek and enjoy asylum in other countries from persecution.
Several observations based upon these articles are in order.
First, the Jews in the Soviet Union do not have the same privileges accorded the other 107 nationalities living in that country. They do not have their own schools, textbooks, or newspapers.
The Soviet Government can do this easily through a denial of housing permits. There has been a drastic decline in the number of existing synagogues since 1956. Jewish theater is virtually nonexistent. The one Yiddish magazine published, Sovietish Heimland, is distributed for the most part outside of the Soviet Union. It has been written by Western specialists on Soviet religious life, "All experts agree that the Jewish religious group is even less equipped with rights and opportunities to perform its traditional functions than the Christian sects or the Moslems." The Soviet Government appears to have violated the letter and spirit of article 2 in the Declaration of Human Rights.
A more blatant and tragic violation of the declaration comes with regard to the right to emigrate. The right of Jews to leave is not contested; instead, the Jews are intimidated and harassed by time-consuming bureaucratic redtape, and loss of jobs and educational opportunities while they are waiting. Even more serious are the trials of Soviet Jews for expressing feelings "defamatory to the Soviet Union" or participating in activities "hostile to the State."
We have read of the trial of Boris Kochubiyeusky, a 33-year-old electronics engineer from Kiev: He was arrested in December 1968, and was later tried and sentenced to 3 years at a labor camp for "antiSoviet slander." His crime consisted of a public defense of Israel during the 1967 war, and his public speech in September 1968, that Babi Yar, where the Nazis slaughtered 70,000 Soviet Jews in 1941, was a tragedy for the Jewish people. Boris Kochubiyeusky wanted to go to Israel. Instead and because of his wish, he is in prison.
Another example of Soviet persecution of the Jews is the economic crimes campaign of 1961-1964, where the death penalty was reinstituted after a lapse of many years. Of the several hundred executed, more than 50 percent were Jews, who constituted 1 percent of the total population. The International Commission of Jurists, in a detailed study, pointed out the antisemitic stigma of the campaign.
In summary, the right to emigrate has been denied Soviet Jews in violation of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, through indirect intimidation and harassment, as well as direct quotas.
It is essential that the U.S. Congress adopt legislation that indicates our support for a persecuted minority, and urges the Soviet Government to end the discrimination and emigration restriction of the Jews.
The widespread public protests against the treatment of Soviet Jews have had some results. There has been a halt to the closing of synagogues, a partial lifting of the ban on matzoth, the publication of a few Jewish books in Yiddish or Russian, and most encouraging, a slight easing of emigration restrictions. Another good sign is the statements of the Soviet Government that indicate their sensitivity to external pressure.
For these reasons, I am a sponsor of House Concurrent Resolution 393, and I call upon my colleagues to support it vigorously. The resolution would be in keeping with the rights of man that are universally acknowledged.