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case presentations, to offer to visit and make an independent evaluation of the Soviet of abusive psychiatry.
[Mr. Fireside's prepared statement and accompanying materials follow:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF PROFESSOR HARVEY FIRESIDE
Amnesty International is a worldwide human rights movement which works impartially for the release of prisoners of conscience, men and women detained anywhere for their beliefs, color, ethnic origin, sex, religion or language, provided they have neither used nor advocated violence. Amnesty International opposes torture and the death penalty in all cases without reservation and advocates fair and prompt trials for all political prisoners. The organization is independent of all governments, political factions, ideologies, economic interests and religious creeds. It has consultative status with the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe, has cooperative relations with the Organization of African Unity, and was the recipient of the 1977 Nobel Prize for Peace.
The United States Section of Amnesty International appreciates this opportunity to testify on the political abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union.
Over many years Amnesty International has learned of cases in which Soviet citizens have been put in psychiatric institutions against their will for peacefully exercising their human rights in ways disapproved of by the Soviet authorities, and not for genu i ne medical reasons.
In a report published in 1975 called Prisoners of Conscience in the USSR: Their Treatment and Conditions, Amnesty International said that it knew in detail of some 120 cases of such psychiatric abuse since January, 1969. In 1980, Amnesty International issued a second, completely revised edition of the above report in which it referred to a further 100 i ndi viduals who were known to have been forcibly confined for political and not genu i ne medical reasons, between June, 1975 and May, 1979. As of January, 1983 Amnesty International had learned of another 85 cases of Soviet psychiatric abuse since May, 1979, noting that there has been no significant change in the procedures for compulsory confinement since publication of the earlier reports.
Dangerousness and Forcible Confinement. The Soviet Union's criteria for involuntary psychiatric confinement resemble such standards employed for such confinement the world over: namely, that a person be forcibly committed only if he is dangerous to himself or others by reason of mental illness. There are two formal procedures most commonly used to commit individuals to mental hospitals: the civil and the criminal. The civil commitment procedures is outlined in a directive which states that mentally ill people may be involuntarily confined to a psychiatric hospital if they are an "evident danger" to themselves or to others. The criminal procedure for compulsory confinement is applicable to those who have been accused of a criminal offense, and whose mental health is called into question. According to Soviet la even if individuals are diagnosed as mentally ill, they may be involuntarily hospitalized only if they are shown to be dangerous to themselves or others.
In reality, in hundreds of cases of forcible confinement, there has been no suggestion, even by the authorities, that the "patients' were physically dangerous either to themselves or to others. Rather, these individuals have been detained under Soviet civil and criminal statutes which allow for involuntary confinement if there is evidence of the commission of a "socially dangerous act." The following types of behavior have been labeled as "socially dangerous acts" by Soviet authorities and have been used as grounds for psychiatric commitment:
Refusing to relinquish her religious beliefs (Anna Chertkova, 1973)
Amnesty International regards these acts labeled as "socially dangerous" by Soviet authorities to be acts protected by fundamental guarantees of the rights of freedom of conscience, speech, and association.
Mental 11lness: The Politicization of Psychiatric Diagnosis. Official diagnoses are further indications that people without any commonly accepted signs of psychopathology can be labeled as dangerously ill. Such a diagnosis is justified by the theory of Professor Andrei Snezhnevsky, Director of the Institute of Psychiatry of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences, who has argued that certain forms of schizophrenia, which he names "sluggish schizophrenia" and "creeping schizophrenia," need not be accompanied by any external symptoms, even when the "illness" is serious enough to justify forcible hospitalization. Dissidents are often diagnosed as having these forms of "mental illness," so that even a lifetime of outwardly correct behavior will not protect them. in essence, the borders of mental illness are limitless under the Snezhnevsky system: any activity going against the norms of the state may be described as schizophrenic.
Another common diagnosis applied is that of "paranoid psychopathy."
"nervous exhaustion brought on by her search for justice" (N.
It is Amnesty International's view that political activity protected under international human rights laws and standards is again being used as evidence of 'mental illness."
Confinement in Psychiatric Hospitals. Aggravating the abuse of psychiatry demonstrated by confinement in ordinary psychiatric hospitals is the fact that some dissenters are currently confined in what are called "special psychiatric hospitals" (SPH's) designed to house "especially
dangerous" persons. These institutions might be more accurately termed *- institutions for the criminally insane.
Special psychiatric hospitals operate under the direct authority of the Soviet Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD). The rest of the Soviet hospital network, including "ordinary psychiatric hospitals," are under the jurisdiction of health authorities. SPH's are operated like prisons. Indeed, several of them, such as the Oryol SPH, the Chernyakhovsk SPH, and
the Dnepropetrovsk SPH are housed in former prison buildings. AIT SPH'S are heavily guarded with watchtowers, barbed wired fences, armed and uniformed MVD personnel, and guard dogs.
According to all accounts, not only the security and administrative staff, but virtually all the leading medical personnel of SPH's hold rank in the MVD. In addition, the orderlies at the SPH's are convicted criminal prisoners, who are recruited from corrective labor colonies. Arbitrary, often sadistic, and sometimes fatal beatings have been reported time and again in a number of SPH's.
Medications Used as Punishment. There is also clear evidence that medications are frequently used for punishment by hospital authorities and psychiatrists. For example, Sulfazin (sulfi soxazole) is sometimes administered to dissenters, via daily injection, despite the fact that this drug has long-since been proven to have no therapeutic value in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. In addition, reports of fever and pain at the injection site are common. Sufazin is used elsewhere in the world primarily to treat uncomplicated urinary tract infections, but it is prescribed orally, to prevent the side effects which follow from its injection.
In addition, dissidents who show no evidence of massive agitation or violent behavior are nonetheless treated with neuroleptics. Typically, they are directly or indirectly advised that the only way they can avoid being forced to take these drugs is to renounce their political or religious views. They are also threatened with higher drug doses or with the renewal of previously discontinued medications if they protest their mistreatment. For example, Anatoly Lupynos, a permanent invalid since his earlier imprisonment in 1956, was given high doses of neuroleptics after he lodged a protest against his treatment.
Insulin shock therapy is sometimes employed, a course usually consisting of 25 to 30 i nduced hypoglycemic comas. Vasily Shipilov, who has been confined since 1949, developed epilepsy after his "treatment" with insulin shock therapy. Physical restraints are also used for punishment. An individual may be left in his bed for a week or longer and neglected. Another punishment is the 'wet pack" or "dry wrap" in which the inmate is tightly wrapped in strips of wet sheeting, which tightens as it dries, causing great pain.
Whether one defines this treatment as sinking to the level of torture, it definitely falls into the category of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment against which there is an absolute prohibition in international human rights law and standards.
PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE
Amnesty International regards persons who have been confined to psychiatric hospitals for activities protected under international human rights law and standards to be not "patients," but Prisoners of Conscience.
In its March, 1983 briefing paper on psychiatric abuse in the Soviet Union referred to above, Amnesty International noted that since August, 1977, people have been forcibly confined to Soviet psychiatric institutions for indefinite periods, for political and not genuinely medical reasons. Nineteen of these were confined under criminal procedures to special psychiatric hospitals, which constitute the most severe form of psychiatric detention and are intended for people who "represent a special danger to society." Most, however, were confined to ordinary psychiatric hospitals under civil (administrative) procedures, sometimes on more than one occasion duing this period. The figures given above do not include the many known prisoners of conscience who were put in psychiatric hospitals before August, 1977 and who in many cases remained confined after that date. Nor does it include cases on which Amnesty International regards the available information as insufficient to identify the person as a prisoner of conscience. These figures, therefore, represent a minimal expression of the magnitude of psychiatric confinement of dissidents in the Soviet Union.
In the five months since this briefing paper was issued, Amnesty International has continued to receive reports about this practice in the Soviet Union, learning of a further 19 cases of Soviet psychiatric abuse. One of these new cases involves Vladimar Danchev, aged 35, who has been forcibly confined to a psychiatric hospital for an indefinite period after he made remarks critical of Soviet foreign policy in broadcasts given by "Radio Moscow."
Vladimir Danchev was formerly employed as a newsreader with the Soviet English-language broadcasting service, "Radio Moscow." Over a period of months in 1983, he is reported to have made repeated alterations to officially-prepared texts and to have broadcast comments sharply critical of Soviet policy towards Afghanistan. Following extensive publicity given to his remarks abroad, Danchev was dismissed from his post and transferred