To the Editors:
Thirty-five writers and leaders of the anti-war and protest movements—including four men indicted for counseling draft refusal—have sent a letter to the Soviet government protesting the recent trial and jailing of four young Soviet writers. Among the signatories of the protest are Yale University Chaplain William Sloane Coffin, Harvard Graduate Student and anti-draft leader Michael Ferber, author Mitchell Goodman, and Institute for Policy Studies co-director Marcus Raskin, all of whom have been indicted by the Federal Government for their urging young men to refuse to fight in the Vietnam war.
The complete text of the protest letter, and full list of signatories, are as follows:
Mr. Leonid I. Brezhnev
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Dear Mr. Brezhnev:
The recent trial, conviction, and subsequent sentencing of Yuri Galanskov, Aleksandr Ginzburg, Aleksei Dobrovolsky, and Vera Lashkova on charges of “anti-Soviet agitation” is a matter of grave concern to us.
The prolonged incarceration of the defendants without trial; the arbitrary exclusion of the public from an allegedly open trial, the atmosphere in the courtroom, and the conduct of the trial itself; the severity of the sentences; and the complete lack of coverage from the Soviet press—all are grim reminders of another era in Soviet history, a period which we hope your regime has no intention of reviving.
Mr. Secretary, we who sign this protest urge you to reopen this case to a public and impartial trial. While all of us are on public record as sharing your opposition to the US military intervention in Vietnam, we cannot condone the trial of the four defendants in Moscow. Whatever the merits of the case, are these four not entitled to an open and fair trial under rights guaranteed by the Soviet Constitution?
To reopen this case would be both a statesmanlike gesture and a hopeful indication of the direction of Soviet society.
With due respect, Mr. Secretary, we are,
M. S. Arnoni
William Sloane Coffin, Jr.
Conor Cruise O’Brien
Arthur I. Waskow
March 14, 1968