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MATERIAL SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD
Prepared statement of Hon. Dante B. Fascell, a Representative in Congress
Letter dated June 23, 1983, from Dr. George Tarjan, president, American
Letter dated January 31, 1983, from the All Union Scientific Society of
ABUSE OF PSYCHIATRY IN THE SOVIET UNION
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 1983
House Of Representatives, Committee On Foreign Af-
The subcommittee met at 2:27 p.m., in room 2200, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Gus Yatron (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. Yatron. Today, the Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Organizations and the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe meet in joint session to receive testimony from a highly distinguished group of witnesses on the abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union.
Our hearing today is in direct response to a request from the American Psychiatric Association which wanted an opportunity to present testimony on this important subject. As the former chairman of this subcommittee, Don Fraser, said in 1976,
The use of psychiatry by governments against political dissidents is certainly one of the most horrifying assaults in the dignity of the individual made possible by a modern science.
It strikes me that this particular form of human rights abuse appears particularly heinous since it involves the active cooperation of highly educated medical professionals who have presumably dedicated their lives toward improving the health and welfare of those entrusted to their care.
Mr. Lantos, do you have an opening statement that you would like to make or any comments that you would like to share with us at this time?
Mr. Lantos. Just one, Mr. Chairman.
First, I want to commend you for holding these hearings. Since you have assumed the chairmanship of this subcommittee, you have focused on a series of human rights violations around the globe with a degree of determination and intelligence and perception that I think has brought to you the admiration of all of your colleagues. I want you to know how proud" I am to serve on your subcommittee.
Mr. Yatron. Thank you very much.
Mr. Lantos. Last January, I led a congressional delegation to the Soviet Union. We again had firsthand opportunity to talk to a group of Soviet citizens in connection with the abuse of psychiatry as a weapon of punishment meted out to Soviet citizens.
I suspect those of us, Mr. Chairman, who have been following human rights violations in the Soviet Union for many years, via the psychiatric route or in other ways, were probably less surprised by the most recent Soviet brutality as exemplified in the shooting down of the Korean civilian airliner with 269 dead.
We are looking at a country which over its history has killed in cold blood millions of innocent human beings. But there are probably no more outrageous human rights violations in the long and ugly and dark history of the Soviet Union than the human rights abuses which relate to the use of highly trained, highly skilled physicians who are persuaded or cajoled or forced to pervert their scientific training, their training as physicians for the use of torturing people who see the Soviet Union in its true light.
I look forward to hearing the testimony, and I think that it is significant for us to recognize that the Soviet Union has chosen to withdraw from the international association which represents the distinguished profession, because it knew it could not abide by the standards that the American Psychiatric Association and other associations would demand of their Soviet colleagues. It is analogous, it seems to me, to the attempt yesterday of the Soviet Foreign Minister, Mr. Gromyko, to stay away from the U.N. meeting.
It is always the ultimate gesture of the Soviet Union to remove itself from an international gathering, or from an international organization when the outrage of the whole civilized world coalesces in an orgy of criticism of the most recent preposterous Soviet act.
The timing of this hearing, Mr. Chairman, is extremely propitious, and I want to thank you again for calling it.
Mr. Yatron. Thank you very much, Mr. Lantos, for your fine comments.
Before I yield to Mr. Leach, I would like to say that Chairman Fascell may be here a little later. He had a scheduling conflict. He does have an opening statement which we will include in the record.
[Mr. Fascell's prepared statement follows:]
Prepared Statement Of Hon. Dante B. Fascell, A Representative In Congress From The State Of Florida, And Chairman, Commission On Security And Cooperation In Europe
I am pleased to join my distinguished colleague, Rep. Gus Yatron, Chairman of the Human Rights Subcommittee, in chairing this hearing on an issue that continues to alarm the international medical community and informed world opinion in general. The subordination of the universally respected practice of medicine to the dictates of political authorities, the "sentencing of dissidents or so-called "complainers" to indefinite terms in psychiatric hospitals is a situation that reveals the lengths to which the Soviet government will go in order to suppress those individuals whose opinions are at variance with officially proclaimed dogma.
In a society such as ours, where every day our citizens cross our borders freely, where any citizen can write a letter to a newspaper on any subject, where passing out leaflets and collecting signatures on a petition is taken for granted, it is inconceivable that such activity may be construed as a manifestation of "unaccountability" and grounds for involuntary psychiatric incarceration.
With its signing of the 1975 Helsinki Accords and the adoption of the recently agreed-to Madrid Concluding Document, a follow-up to the Helsinki Accords, the Soviet Union has committed itself to facilitating religious practice and profession by its citizens. Yet there are a number of so-called psychiatric patients in the Soviet Union whose only crime appears to be a desire to put this promise into action. By its ratification of the International Covenant on Human Rights, the USSR recognizes the right of "everyone to leave any country, including his own." Yet we are informed that there are 35 individuals confined in psychiatric hospitals for attempting to leave the Soviet Union "illegally." The Madrid Concluding Document includes a provision for the right of workers to establish and join trade unions. Cold comfort, perhaps, to Aleksei Nikitin and Vladimir Klebanov, whose labor activities have led to indefinite incarceration and inhumane treatment in the especially notorious Special Psychiatric Hospitals.
Earlier this year, the Soviet Union withdrew from the World Psychiatric Association when it became obvious that its treatment of dissidents and "complainers" would be an issue at that body's Congress in July 1983 at Vienna. By doing so, the Soviet government may have felt it was avoiding serious inquiry into this disturbing chapter in medical history. This hearing is intended to help enlighten us on this issue, and to seek ways to ensure that the Soviet government and medical authorities adhere to its international agreements and the tenets of the Hippocratic oath.
Mr. Yatron. At this time, I would like to yield to Mr. Leach, the ranking minority member of the Subcommittee on Human Rights. Mr. Leach.
Mr. Leach. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I will be very brief.
I just would like to commend the administration for speaking up on this subject consistently and strongly. It is so clear that a society that defines dissent as sickness is itself sick, and that is what we have with the Soviet Union today.
I welcome our witnesses and think that the real scope of the hearing will be what is said on the other side of the table. I look forward to your comments.
Mr. Yatron. Thank you, Mr. Leach.
Our first witness is Charles H. Fairbanks, Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs.
Mr. Fairbanks, we are pleased to have you again as a witness. Will you please proceed.
STATEMENT OF CHARLES H. FAIRBANKS, JR., DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS
Mr. Fairbanks. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
You have my prepared statement, and we have many experts present, so I will cover only certain issues right now. I am very grateful for this opportunity to testify before the members of the committee on the subject of psychiatric abuse.
Most human rights violations occur around the world, in many diverse countries. Psychiatric abuse is distinctive in that it is centered in the Soviet Union. There have been reports that some dissidents have undergone compulsory hospitalization for mental illness—sane dissidents that is—in a few other countries, but only in the Soviet Union has the misuse of psychiatry become widespread and systematic. For this reason, I would like to explore this afternoon the significance of this appalling human rights violation in the Soviet Union.
By psychiatric abuse, we mean the diagnosis of sane dissenters as mentally ill, and their punishment by incarceration in psychiatric hospitals. This particular human rights violation is a distinctive feature of the current stage of Soviet history.
During the 1930's, of course, the Soviet Union carried out what Leszek Kolakowski called "probably the most massive warlike operation ever conducted by a state against its own citizens."
A modest estimate of Stalin's victims would be 6.5 million, a far more likely estimate is 20 million citizens of the Soviet Union. The