To the Editors:
Amnesty International has learned that thirty Czech citizens, members or supporters of the unofficial human rights movement Charter 77 or the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Persecuted (VONS), were arrested on May 6, 1981, and the following days.
These arrests were allegedly made in connection with the detention of two French citizens. On May 15 the Czech News Agency announced that on April 27 the government border authorities had detained Gilles Thonon, a lawyer, and Françoise Anis, a law student. They were alleged to have used a specially adapted vehicle to carry various materials, instructions, technical equipment, and money for the use of some Czech citizens for subversive purposes. The announcement said the government authorities had discovered an important channel through which activity hostile to the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (CSSR) was organized and financed from abroad.
According to the latest information received by Amnesty International, eight of the people arrested are in pretrial detention on charges of subversion in collusion with foreign powers and on a large scale (Article 98, sections 1 and 2, paragraphs a and b, of the CSSR penal code). If convicted, they face prison sentences of up to ten years. Those being held in pretrial detention are: Jaromir Horec, poet and journalist; Eva Kanturkova, writer and journalist; Karel Kyncl, journalist; Jan Mlynarik, historian; Jan Ruml, former student, now worker; Jiri Ruml, journalist; Jirina Siklova, sociologist; Milan Simecka, writer.
Amnesty International believes that these eight people are being prosecuted for having peacefully exercised their human rights and has adopted them as prisoners of conscience.
The following people have now been released without charges being brought against them: Jan Bednar, Jiri Bednar, Zbynek Fiser (Egon Bondy), Zina Freundova, Olga Havlova, Jaroslav Meznik, Milan Otahal, Karel Pecka, Karel Siktanc, Jan Simsa, Josef Stehlik, Vera Stovickova, Zdenek Urbanek.
However, the following people who have been released were officially charged: Jiri Hajek, Ivan Havel, Karel Holomek, Josef Jablonicky, Zdenek Jicinsky, Mojmir Klansky, Miroslav Kusy, and Jiri Müller.
Amnesty International urges that telegrams and letters be sent expressing concern that Jaromir Horec, Eva Kanturkova, Karel Kyncl, Jan Mlynarik, Jan Ruml, Jiri Ruml, Jirina Siklova, and Milan Simecka have been arrested and detained for apparently having peacefully expressed their beliefs, and urging that all charges against them be dropped and that they be immediately and unconditionally released from prison.
Appeals should be sent to Dr. Gustáv Husák, President of the CSSR, Praha-Hrad, CSSR, and Dr. Ján Fejes, General Procurator of the CSSR, Praha 4-Nusle, Nam Hrdinu 9, CSSR. Copies of appeals should also be sent to Czechoslovak diplomatic representatives in Washington, DC.
Professor Barbara C. Sproul
Amnesty International USA, New York City