The Moscow Group to Assist the Implementation of
the Helsinki Accords
December 8, 1979, Document 69
The Thirtieth Anniversary of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations thirty years ago was the most important step in the development of the humanistic principles of present-day society. Shortly before it was accepted, World War II ended, destroying Nazism. With Stalin's death, a dictatorship no less criminal terminated.
"Yet even today in many of the world's countries, the USSR among them, the principles proclaimed by the declaration are not being implemented.
"Many of the important articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are especially being violated in the USSR:
"Article 19: the freedom of opinion and the freedom to receive and impart information;
Article 13: the right to freely choose one's country of residence and within that country, the place of residence;
"Article 18: the freedom of religion;
"Articles 10 and 11: public and fair trials;
"Article 5: prohibition against cruel and degrading punishment;
"Article 20: freedom of assembly;
"Articles 23 and 26: contradicting the spirit of these articles, the discrimination against nationalities and ideologies in employment and education is not forbidden. The freedom of professional associations is also not guaranteed;
"Article 15: the right to hold or change citizenship;
"Article 12: the secrecy of correspondence and the inviolability of the home.
"Other articles are similarly being violated in varying degrees.
"Another serious violation is that regardless of the U.N. General Assembly's invitation 'to do everything possible to disseminate, proclaim, and explain the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in schools and other educational institutions,' the text of the declaration is totally unknown to large sections of the population in the Soviet Union.
"Thus, between 1960 and 1970, based on the principles of the Universal Declaration, a Human Rights Movement formed in the Soviet Union. Letters and statements in defense of individuals, articles, literary and historical works, letters and diaries from forced labor camps and prisons, exhaustive transcripts of trial proceedings, statements from the Initiative Group for the Defense of Human Rights in the USSR, the Human Rights Committee, the regular publication of the Chronicle of Current Events, the documents of the Helsinki Watch Groups, and the findings of the Working Commission to Investigate the Use of Psychiatry for Political Purposes have disclosed to the world the countless cases of violations of basic human rights in the USSR. They have become an important part in the formation of a world-wide human rights defense ideology which has succeeded in uniting many persons around the globe regardless of race, nationality, religion, social rank, or citizenship.
"We are convinced that the responsibility for monitoring human rights falls not only on the state but also on the citizens of every country.
"Pronouncing our dedication to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and seeking universal humaneness as well as the safeguarding of human rights as formulated in the Helsinki Final Act, we consider it imperative:
—to free all prisoners of conscience;
—to change articles 70 and 190-1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR) (as well as the corresponding Criminal Codes of the Soviet republics) allowing persecution for reasons of faith or exchange of information and ideas;
—to change Article 64 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR (as well as corresponding articles of the Criminal Codes of the Soviet republics) allowing persecution for attempting to choose one's country of residence or ideas;
—to eliminate all legal obstacles and grant the right to freely choose one's country of residence (the right to leave one's country and freely return to it) and the right to choose one's place of residence within that country;
—to halt the persecution of all religious believers; to ensure the true separation of Church and state;
—to change the regime in prisons and special psychiatric hospitals; to formulate more humane Labor-Correction Laws;
—to eliminate forced labor in prisons, in exile, and during parole; to change Article 209 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR (and corresponding articles in the Criminal Codes of the Soviet republics);
—to terminate psychiatric repression for political reasons;
—to discontinue educational and employment discrimination for reasons of nationality, principles, or religion once the sentence set by the court has been completed and to eliminate the persecution of relatives;
—to ensure the freedom of professional societies and other associations;
—to discontinue violations involving the exchange of foreign or domestic information: interference with the mail, telephone, and telegraph;
—to eliminate the revoking of citizenship for political reasons.
"We appeal with this document to the authorities of the USSR and the other thirty-four countries which signed the Helsinki Final Act, as well as to all the members of the United Nations which thirty years ago proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights' to be a task which all nations and states must endeavor to complete.'
"This document will remain available throughout this year in our country and beyond its boundaries for signatures from all who want to join us in the attempt to implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This will guarantee not only individual freedom and life but peaceful coexistence among all nations.
December 8, 1978
(signed) Yelena Bonner, Sofia Kalistratova, Malva Landa, Naum Meiman, Viktor Nekipielov, Tatyana Osipova, Yuri Yarym-Agaev."
"We join them: Tatyana Velikanova, Andrei Sakharov, Raisa Lert, Aleksandr Lavut, Leonard Ternovskij, Yevgenij Nikolaev, Maria Petrenko-Podjapolskaya, Vera Livcak, Irina Kaplun, Georgy Vadimov, Lev Kopelev, Lidya Chiukovskaya, Vladimir Karnilov, Nina Strokatova-Karavanskaya.
"Priest-members of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights: Rev. Jonas Kauneckas, Rev. Alfonsas Svarinskas, Rev. Sigitas Tamkevičius, Rev. Vincas Vėlavičius, Rev. Juozas Zdebskis.
"Rev. Juozas Adomaitis, Rev. Lionginas Kunevičius, Rev. Petras Dumbliauskas, Rev. Vaclovas Degutis, Rev. Antanas Gražulis, Rev. Jonas Maksvytis, Rev. Albinas Deltuva, Rev. Stasys Mikalojūnas, Rev. Vaclovas Stakėnas, Rev. Virgilijus Jaugelis, Rev. Gvidonas Dovydaitis."
Many more Lithuanian priests and lay persons signed this document, but the Chronicle was unable to learn of their names.