To the Editors:
In light of the recent wave of protests in the Baltic countries, your readers may be interested in the following letter to Mikhail Gorbachev calling for the release of Juris Bumeisters, an imprisoned Latvian socialist. Circulated by the Campaign for Peace and Democracy/East and West, the letter has been signed by individuals from both the West and the USSR who have been active on behalf of peace and democratic rights.
Director, Campaign for
Peace and Democracy/East and West
New York City
Dear General Secretary Gorbachev:
We are writing to urge the immediate release of Juris Bumeisters, who has been in prison in Latvia since 1981. Bumeisters is a member of the Latvian Social Democratic Workers’ Party (LSDSP, from the Latvian name), which has been granted exile party status by the Socialist International. He was sentenced to 15 years of strict regime labor camp on charges of treason.
Bumeisters’ real crime was his work on behalf of Latvia’s right to self-determination and his defense of socialist and democratic ideas. Soviet authorities were particularly disturbed by Bumeisters’ contacts with the Stockholm-based LSDSP in exile.
We are pleased that a number of Soviet political prisoners have recently been released. We hold a variety of political views, but as peace, trade union, and human rights activists we are united in our conviction that freedom of expression is essential to any decent society. We call upon you to free Juris Bumeisters and all other political prisoners in the USSR.
Ludmilla Alexeyeva, Founding member, Moscow Helsinki Watch; Gert Bastian, West German Green Party, Generals for Peace and Disarmament; Gail Daneker, Campaign for Peace and Democracy/East and West; Polly Duncan, Sojourners; Barbara Ehrenreich, Co-Chair, Democratic Socialists of America; Daniel Ellsberg; Dan Gallin, General Secretary, International Union of Foodworkers, Geneva, Switzerland; Allen Ginsberg, American Institute of Arts and Letters; Michael Harrington, Co-Chair, Democratic Socialists of America; Thomas Harrison, Associate Director, Campaign for Peace and Democracy/East and West; Judith Hempfling, Peace Activists East and West; John Hersey; Patrick Hunt, European Nuclear Disarmament, Great Britain; A. Winton Jackson, Editor, Across Frontiers; Phyllis and Julius Jacobson, Editors, New Politics; Petra Kelly, Member of Bundestag, West German Green Party; Joanne Landy, Director, Campaign for Peace and Democracy/East and West; Helmut Lippelt, Member of Bundestag, West German Green Party; Ken Livingston, Member of Parliament, British Labour Party; Yuri and Olga Medvedkov, Members, Moscow Trust Group 1982–1986; Seymour Melman, Columbia University; Samuel Meyers, President, Local 259, United Automobile Workers; Brian Morton, Campaign for Peace and Democracy/East and West; Yuri Orlov; Jiri Pelikan, Deputy of the European Parliament, Italian Socialist Party; Rose Styron; Max and Sylvia Wohl, Socialist Party USA*
February 18, 1988