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“Women’s Group for Survival in Refusal”

Members of the Moscow-based Women’s Group for Survival in Refusal have issued an open appeal for continued support of their cause, despite official Soviet statements concerning the treatment of Soviet Jews.

The women released the following appeal in June 1989:

We can’t exercise our human rights to emigrate with our families to the countries that we dream of and which agree to admit us, where our parents, sisters, brothers and many other relatives live, with which we are connected by deep historic and spiritual roots. The very moment we applied for exit visas our lives stopped. Our children suffer most of all from this situation because they are cruelly and mercilessly persecuted by school administrations and anti-Semitic classmates.

Soviet propaganda tries its best to slander us, to give us the image of traitors and enemies of humanity. We are absolutely without rights, and we are completely in their power. We have no other way out but to turn to you, the people of the free and democratic world, and appeal to you for help.

The Soviet press and officials seek to persuade you that the problem of refuseniks — Jews and non-Jews —is completely solved, that there are no more refuseniks in the USSR. Unfortunately, it’s not so!

Of course, it’s clear that the level of Soviet Jewish emigration greatly increased in the last few months. It’s due to the great wish of the Soviet government to get rid of the Jackson Vanik Amendment [which links U.S. trade benefits to the Soviet Union with free emigration]. But the system of hostages continues to exist.

We long-term refuseniks are now not so numerous. Some of us, thanks to your pressure, finally achieved their long-awaited freedom. We ask and beg you —don’t forget us! Continue to stand by us. Don’t weaken your efforts to help us survive and get rid of the iron chains.