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APPENDIX 28

PRESS RELEASE FROM SENATOR ROBERT W. KASTEN, JR., U.S. REPRE

SENTATIVE TO THE U.N. 37TH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, REGARDING THE DECLARATION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF INTOLERANCE AND DISCRIMINATION BASED ON RELIGION OR BELIEF, NOVEMBER 23, 1982

Mr. Chairman, last year, following almost two decades of consideration, study and discussion, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination based on Religion or Belief.

The Declaration locates the freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief in the 'dignity and equality inherent in all human beings. Freedom of religion, thought, conscience and belief, according to the Declaration, is not a favor that states may grant or withhold at their pleasure, or use as a reward or a punishment. It is a right of all humanity which exists independent of and prior to the prerogatives of states.

The Declaration prescribes that states take 'effective measures to prevent or eliminate discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief,'and that they make all efforts to enact or rescind legislation where necessary to prohibit discrimination and to take all appropriate measures to combat intolerance." The state's role in setting standards for religious practices must be defined in law, according to the Declaration, and it is to be exercised only to the degree "necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.' considerations such as the truth or falsity of religious claims are not among the items listed in this clause of the Declaration, nor are consideratons of state convenience or views on political and social questions.

By adopting this Declaration, we have not solved the problem of religious intolerance. Many specific and glaring cases of religious intolerance and discrimination continue to exist.

For example, the treatment today of the Baha'i in Iran embodies in a particularly brutal way the classic form of religious intolerance which says that what is different must be wrong and must, therefore, be suppressed.

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The present Iranian Government seems determined to destroy the Baha'i religion in Iran. The houses of worship of the Baha'i have been closed and destroyed. Their books and writings are burned when found. Baha'i marriages are not recognized as legal, and the children of such marriages are considered illegitimate. The pensions of retired government workers who are Baha'is have been stopped, and in May 1979, Baha'is employed by the Iranian Government were told they must renounce their faith or face dismissal. In September 1979, provincial governments were instructed not to license Baha'i shopkeepers or merchants. Elders of the Baha'i faith have been abducted some to be publicly executed, others to join the thousands of the disappeared.'

Mr. Chairman, this is an example of the intolerance enforced by an undemocratic government controlled by the dominant religion. This has been a prevalent form of religious discrimination over the centuries, but the modern era has witnessed a new and especially virulent form of state-enforced intolerance. The rise of totalitarian governments, seeking to control and organize all aspects of life, culture and society, has been accompanied by intolerance of all religions. Religions are seen as competitors for influence, affection or obedience, and therefore, as institutions which must be destroyed. Such political systems are based on what Pope John Paul II this month called 'secularized ideologies that go as far as to negate God and limit religious liberty.'

One example is Vietnam where all three principal religions --Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, --are treated with great hostility. Catholic priests and nuns and Protestant ministers are subject to continual police surveillance, and according to the English Catholic newspaper, The Tablet, some 200 Catholic priests are in prison at the present time. Islamic schools have been closed and the traditional pilgrimage to Mecca has been forbidden. Large numbers of Buddhist monks have been sent to re-education camps. The An Quang Buddhist sect, which ironically was suspected by the former Thieu Government of having pro-Communist sympathies, has suffered rigorous persecution by the Hanoi Government, according to An Quang monks who have managed to escape to Thailand.

Some of the most clear-cut violations of the Declaration on Elimination of Religious Intolerance take place in Albania. Let me quote from the 1980 Amnesty International Report:

'In 1967, Albania was officially proclaimed the first atheist state in the world and churches and mosques were closed or demolished. Religious leaders of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Moslem faiths were prohibited from exercising their functions and persecuted. Many are reported to have been sentenced to long terms of imprisonment or banishment for attempting to exercise their right to freedom of conscience."

Article 55 of the Albanian Constitution flatly prohibits religious organizations and religious activity, and the Albanian Penal Code makes such activity punishable by three to ten years' imprisonment.

Albanian law thus openly and completely contradicts the Declaration on the Elimination of Religious Intolerance. Article 4, Section 2 of the Declaration demands that all states shall either enact or, where necessary, rescind legislation in order to prohibit religious intolerance and discrimination. The Albanian Government thus has a clear moral obligation to remove the legislation which prohibits the full exercise of religion in Albania.

Nicaragua also applies a stringent political test to religious activity. There, Interior Minister Tomas Borge has stated, the future of religious sects in Nicaragua will depend upon their attitude henceforth toward the revolution.'

But the people of Nicaragua are deeply religious and the confrontation between the Nicaraguan Government and the Catholic Church has been a source of growing dismay and consternation. Archbishop Obando y Bravo, who was banned by the government from saying mass on television, has said that the Sandinistas are afraid of the church and its large following. "They would like us to accept their Marxism," he has said, hand walk shoulder to shoulder with them. They want us to be their apologists."

The government has repeatedly closed down the church's radio station and sponsored stone-throwing, chain-wielding mobs called turbas which harass priests and occupy church premises. Such acts have profoundly alienated the population. As a parishioner from San Marcos recently told The Wall Street Journal, 'when they attack the church and our priests, they are attacking us, and we won't stand for it."

The United Nations and the world community should not stand for it either.

The world pioneer in the suppression of religion, Mr. Chairman, is the Soviet Union. Although Article 52 of the Soviet Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, and provides, for the separation of church and state, the practice followed in the Soviet Union is best described in the following quote from the works of Stalin:

*The Party cannot be neutral toward religion and it conducts anti-religion propaganda against all and every religious prejudice.

Religion is seen as preaching a transcendant view of man and the world which Soviet authorities reject, since this view is innately opposed to their efforts to make the individual completely subservient to the state. There are also specific churches and religions -- for example, the Catholic Church in Lithuania or the Islamic Religion in the Central Asian Republics of the USSR that are seen as the carriers of a nationalist spirit which works against Russian domination. Such churches and religions are marked for special measures -- overt suppression, as in the case of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, or a more subtle form of corruption and subversion from within, as in the case of Islam in the Central Asian Republics.

The Jewish minority in the Soviet Union experiences discrimination and denial of basic human rights not only on religious grounds but on racial and ethnic grounds as well. Soviet Jews who attempt to teach their religion to young people can be charged with criminal activity and sent to the Gulag. Those who reproduce religious writings may lose their jobs and often face arrest as well. Jewish parents, like Protestant or Catholic or Orthodox parents, may be deprived of their children if the children receive religious instruction outside the home.

In addition to these persecutions, common to all who practice a religion in the Soviet Union, Jews are subject to a range of discrimination and hostility which is reserved especially for them. State and party newspapers and periodicals have published an enormous volume of anti-Semitic hate literature which reworks the themes of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the anti-Semitic tract -- first published in Russia in 1905. It alleges a Jewish world conspiracy and inspired the propaganda and violence of the Black Hundreds in Russia at the turn of the century and later of the Nazis in Germany.

Mr. Chairman, the us delegation is fortunate to have in its possession a letter to a member of the delegation, dated November 5, 1982, which gives a vivid, moving picture of the nature of religious per secution in the Soviet Union. The letter is from Natalia Solzhenitsyn, the wife of the Nobel Laureate. Mrs. Solzhenitsyn calls our attention to a remarkable document, the "Report of the Council for Religious Affairs to Members of the Central Committee of the CPSU,' which demonstrates that the Council, a party-governmental organization, controls the Russian Orthodox Church on all levels, from the Patriarch down to the clerk who sells candles. It also demonstrates that the Council demands from priests not merely civic loyality to the authorities, but a maximal passivity which perverts the very meaning of their service.

Mrs. Solzhenitsyn's letter is most significant, however, as a personal testimony. What follows is quoted from that letter:

I would like to list for you,' she writes, 'those violations of religious freedom (and only those) which I and my family personally experienced, as rank-and-file members of the Orthodox Church.

The number of churches in the USSR is far below the population's needs. Consequently, during services the churches are always crowded and stuffy, with the result that older people faint. In Moscow and all across the country there are many churches which are used as warehouses or offices, and some simply remain empty, but the authorities have refused believers' requests that they be allowed to use them for services. (Naturally, the believers were ready to assume all expenses.)

'It is impossible to purchase a copy of the Bible, the New Testament, prayer books, or any sort of religious or theological literature. There are no bookstores where these items are sold. publishing house of the Moscow Patriarchate prints religious books,

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but they are issued in such miniscule quantities that a lay person cannot hope to acquire even a church calendar which lists church holidays and gospel readings. Only three or four calendars are issued to each parish, which usually contains thousands of people.

'I bought my copy of the New Testament from an old and very poor woman when I was a student at Moscow University, having given her my entire month's allowance. The thirst for Bibles and New Testaments is very great, not only among believers, but also among young atheists, all of whom are forced to take courses in 'scientific atheism' in all institutions of higher learning. . Many of these people would themselves like to read the holy scriptures, which are constantly derided and made fun of, not only at these courses, but everywhere. However, I would like to repeat that these books are available only on the 'black market' and nowhere else.

*There is a lack of priests in the country. In order to have the opportunity to give confession, people must wait for hours, and even then it is often impossible to have a personal confession. Parishioners must then take part in 'collective confessions,' which do not satisfy most believers.

'Priests are forbidden to conduct private services outside of churches, and if a person is ill or is dying and is unable to go to church, then he may die without communion. For a believer, this can be tragic.

"Sermons are rarely given in churches. The Council for Religious Affairs exerts great pressure on priests, urging them not to give Sermons. Religious meetings held outside church walls are forbidden as are any other meetings held by Soviet citizens which the authorities cannot control. Thus, people are practically left without any form of spiritual guidance, which is particularly felt by the youth.

'Soviet schools educate children in the spirit of generating hostility toward religion and they follow this policy with great militancy. Practically every school lesson and surely every school book, be it on history, literature, physics, or biology, contains angry attacks on religion and on Jesus Christ, formulated in extremely crude terms.

'Practically 100 percent of the children must join the 'Pioneers,' which is a children's communist organization under the jurisdiction of the Komsomol (Communist Youth League), which in turn is under the direction of the CPsU. The charter of the pioneers contains a point which obliges a Pioneer to actively combat belief in God and root out religion as a 'bourgeois vestige.'

'When my older son became nine years old (the required age for joining the Pioneers), he openly announced in school that he believed in God, that he attended church, and that he is ceady to join the · Pioneers only if he were relieved from fulfilling this particular point in the charter. A struggle began which lasted more than two

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