A small group of Soviet Jews marked International Human Rights Day today by delivering a petition to the Soviet parliament pressing for an official investigation into "arrests and extrajudicial persecution" of Jews seeking to emigrate.
Several other human rights activists were promptly arrested by uniformed and plainclothed police as they gathered for an annual demonstration in Pushkin Square in the center of the city.
The petition to the Supreme Soviet signed by 35 Jewish "refusedniks," or people refused permission to emigrate to Israel, pressed for the creation of committee to investigate recent cases brought against Jews. It asked that the committee include relatives of Jewish prisoners.
The petition accused state security agencies of "groundless, unfounded" repression against such prisoners as Anatoly Scharansky, sentenced to 13 years in 1978, and five Hebrew teachers arrested this year on charges that Jewish groups claim were concocted.
The petition was delivered to a clerk at the Supreme Soviet by seven Soviet Jews, who also asked to meet a member of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.
Their request was not granted, and no reaction is expected to the petition.
In a commentary on International Human Rights Day, the Soviet news agency Tass accused western nations of posing as defenders of human rights, while carrying out their own abuses.
Citing racial discimination in the United States and other rights issues in the West, the Tass commentary concluded, "The power of the rich, the omnipotence of the monopolies, social and national oppression, economic crises and chronic unemployment, severe repressions against dissidents . . . such is the reality of the world of capital."
[The United Nations General Assembly marked Human Rights Day by unanimously adopting an international treaty outlawing torture. But a U.S. delegate criticized limits the pact puts on the power to investigate abuses.]