"Open your newspaper any day of the week and you will find a
story from somewhere of someone being imprisoned, tortured or
executed because his opinions are unacceptable to his
government...The newspaper reader feels a sickening sense of
impotence. Yet if these feelings of disgust could be united
into common action, something effective could be done."
These words were written by Peter Berenson 25 years ago after
he read of two Portugese students who were sentenced to SEVEN
YEARS IMPRISONMENT for raising their glasses in a toast to
freedom. Berenson launched an "Appeal for Amnesty" asking
individuals to write letters to appropriate authorities, and
attempt to let "THE FORGOTTEN PRISONERS" know that people cared
about their plight. Since 1961 Amnesty International has grown
into a world-wide movement of over 500,000 members in more than
150 countries. In 25 years Amnesty International has worked on
behalf of over 30,000 political prisoners.
In June 1984 a Yugoslavian student named Rexhep Kelmendi and
thirteen companions were convicted of the "crimes" of
"association for the purpose of hostile activity, counter-
revolutionary endangering of the social order, and threat to
territorial integrity." What they were really guilty of was
peacefully distributing literature, and writing slogans on
walls calling for formation of a new republic within
Yugoslavia. For this they were sentenced to FIVE YEARS.
You can put your feelings of outrage at this injustice into
action, and work to help get Rexhep Kelmendi out of prison.
Mail the letter below that is addressed to the Minister of
Justice (the equivalent of our Attorney General) asking him to
free Rexhep. Also please send a copy of this letter to
President Reagan. Our hope is that President Reagan will
respond, and that the Minister of Justice, fearing a response
from President Reagan, will be prompted to release Rexhep.
The Seattle area Amnesty International group number four would
like to thank you in advance for your work on this political
prisoner's behalf. If you receive any replies to your letters,
or would like to find out more about Amnesty International, and
the local groups, please call Geoff Berg at (206) 522-8422.
Dr. Petar Vajovic
Savenzni sekretarijat za pravosudje
Bul. Lenjina 2, Beograd
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
I appeal to you to intercede on behalf of Rexhep Kelmendi,
tried in June 1984 in the district court of Pec, Kosovo, and
sentenced to five years imprisonment for the non-violent
exercise of his right to freedom and expression, assembly and
association. His imprisonment violates Articles 19 and 22 of
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
ratified by Yugoslavia in 1971.
cc: President Ronald Reagan
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington D.C. 20500