To the Editors:
The following telegram was sent on February 13 to the Hon. U Thant and released to newspapers. It was signed by the individuals listed below. Those who feel equally disturbed by events in Spain might wish to follow up with letters or telegrams of their own.
—Barbara Probst Solomon
On February 1 The New York Times reported at least eighteen prominent economists, editors, lawyers, and professors have been seized by the Spanish Government and sent to forced residence in remote villages in Spain. Those seized were “members of the professions. Some of them have played a prominent part in the moderate and, until now, tolerated opposition…. The opposition figures seized…were driven to their place of exile with orders to report to the local Civil Guard each day. They must provide their own food and lodging. Some of the villages are too small to have an Inn. The exile can last as long as the state of emergency—three months if not extended. They are permitted to have their families with them but the remoteness of the villages usually makes this impossible.”
This random seizure of some of Spain’s most respected intellectuals as well as arrests of hundreds of students and workers is an unpleasant reminder of the early days of Nazi Germany and the totalitarian Spain of thirty years ago. Preventive arrest to serve as warning to the entire country, banishment without charges or trial, removal of individuals from their homes for an indeterminate period have their inhuman antecedents in concentration camp philosophy. This represents a total abrogation of basic human freedoms and a tragic halt of Spain’s recent attempts towards liberalization.
Have these men been arbitrarily arrested? Have they been advised of any criminal charges against them? Are they being subjected to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment? Are they able to confer freely with counsel of their own choosing? Will they have a fair and public trial by an independent and impartial tribunal? Will they have all the guarantees of justice necessary to their defense?
These are among the human rights set forth in Articles Five, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, and Twelve of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations.
The Spanish Government has been long a member of the United Nations and is pledged to respect these human rights and fundamental freedoms.
It is most fitting, indeed it is urgent that the United Nations, and the Commission on Human Rights inquire immediately whether the Spanish Government is observing or violating the human rights of the men it has recently arrested. Simple justice requires a full and competent investigation.
Lionel Abel, Hannah Arendt, W. H. Auden, Daniel Bell, John M. Blum, Lukas Foss, Walter Gellhorn, John Hersey, Richard Hofstadter, Irving Howe, H. Stuart Hughes, Alfred Kazin, George K. Kirstein, Robert S. Lopez, Robert Lowell, Norman Mailer, Juan Marichal, Rufus Matheweson, Hans Morgenthau, Ernest Nagel, Stanley Plastrik, Louis H. Pollak, Nicholas Sanchez-Albornoz, Meyer Schapiro, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., K. H. Silvert, J. Solnit, Barbara Probst Solomon, William Styron, William B. Watson, and Adam Yarmolinsky.