Volume 23 Number 46
                       Produced: Sat Mar 16 22:25:35 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Fattakhov case: update from Jacob Birnbaum
         [Freda B Birnbaum]


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Fri, 15 Mar 1996 09:21:38 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Fattakhov case: update from Jacob Birnbaum

I lived for several months with my husband Jacob Birnbaum's intense
involvement in the remarkable campaign to save Dmitrii Fattakhov.  For
me, three points stand out:

1) The epic struggle of his mother Frida.  It is the stuff of legend; 
   she never gave up.
2) A few small unofficial groups managed to enlist the aid of three 
   great powers, led by the U.S.
3) The extent to which human rights commitment is becoming a part of 
   state policies among Western powers.

In my husband's words, "We had here a classic campaign of Jewish rescue
-- the formula of persistent public pressure via Washington, powered by
moral passion, still works!"

Herewith two statements by Jacob Birnbaum re a) the arrival of Fattakhov
in Israel and b) the results of Mordechai Perlman's statements in
mail-jewish, which he has asked me to post:

a) Press Release from Jacob Birnbaum 2.15.1996

              The Center for Russian Jewry
           Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry

                Director's Office: Jacob Birnbaum 
                240 Cabrini Blvd. Suite 5B New York, NY 10033
                Tel. (212) 928-7451  Fax. (212) 795-8867

Immediate Release 
Contact:Jacob Birnbaum,(212)928.7451


The young Uzbek Jew, so brutally tortured in Tashkent, reached Israel on
Feb. 8, six days after his 24th birthday, looking old and wizened beyond
his years. Terribly emaciated and disoriented, clinging desperately to
his mother Frida, he was sent to a special hospital in Beer Yaakov, near
Tel Aviv. It took him days to realise that he was safe and he no longer
shrinks away from other males whom he long associated with torture and
psychiatric injections. We are seeking special medical examinations to
ascertain the nature and extent of the tortures inflicted on him. We
know that he was kicked or beaten violently on the head which may
account for his disturbed mental condition. Another prisoner saw him
hanging unconscious from some metal bars usually used for an electric
currents torture. When, after some months, his mother was finally
permitted to visit him, he did not recognize her! Later, Frida Fattakhov
used to stand outside the psychiatric unit every day with food,
medicines and vitamins trying to get in. Once or twice she got in and
now Dmitrii, despite a dangerous bout of pneumonia, did recognize her
and called out "Mommy,mommy save me......take me home!"

Frida now travels hours to the hospital daily to bring his favorite
foods in order to tempt him to begin eating again and to encourage him
to walk again. This is beginning to happen but he continues to have
periods of incoherence. It is hoped that he will eventually recover but
the process will be long and arduous. Frida is concentrating all her
life energies to get him better and cannot think about the new life in
Israel. In the meantime, with expenses, including 60-70 shekels travel,
she is rapidly running out of money. We are getting together an initial
sum but help from your readers would be welcome. Checks should be made
out to

     CENTER FOR RUSSIAN JEWRY, 240 Cabrini Blvd. #5B
     New York, N.Y. 10033, Attn. Jacob Birnbaum. Tel.(212)928.7451

A small group of us have just emerged from an agonising struggle to
rescue a "Jewish captive" -- we were frequently desperate about his very
survival. The group includud Helene Kenvin of Caucasus Network who
functioned as his U.S. lawyer, Pam Cohen and Micah Naftalin of the Union
of Councils who provided brilliant leadership, Jacob Birnbaum of the
Center for Russian Jewry with Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, Inna
Arolovich of the American Association of Russian Jews whose guidance and
encouragement proved invaluable.

Central to the struggle was the escalating commitment of the diplomats
representing the U.K., Germany and above all the leadership of the U.S.,
headed by Ambassador Stanley Escudero in Tashkent and the endlessly
patient assistance of the State Department's Uzbek desk officer Daniel
O'Grady. The ever increasing involvement of the U.S. Government in
international human rights concerns since the Helsinki Final Act of 1974
is noteworthy and appreciated by Jews everywhere.

A year ago, another Bukharan Jew, 74 year old Yosif Koinov, also
indicted for murder, was released and exonerated with the help of an
international campaign.  It is our hope that the human rights momentum
generated by the sufferings of these two Bukharan Jews from Uzbekistan
will result in a more permanent human rights presence in Central Asia,
with a Tashkent focal point. We applaud the early prospect of a
U.S. Administration/ Congressional delegation visit to Tashkent.

With Purim not far away, it is appropriate to note that the Bukharan
Jewish community is a remnant of the old Persian Empire and speaks a
Jewish language of Iranian stock.
                          (end press release)

b) At one point of our campaign, Mr. Mordechai Perlman of Toronto caused
some disruption to our campaign by questioning the validity of our
information and of our understanding of the Fattakhov tragedy.  He cited
a distant relative on the staff of the U.S. embassy in Tashkent and
intimated that the influential orthodox Agudath Israel of America agreed
with him.

I was in frequent, sometimes daily contact with the U. S. State
Department from whom we were receiving substantial support.  As a result
of my expressions of concern, it was suggested to this Tashkent embassy
man that he call me directly.  We had a somewhat tense discussion in
which he agreed that the treatment of Fattakhov involved human rights
violations but could not be branded as anti-Jewish.  What really upset
me however was his suggestion that as long as the young man could not
fully prove his innocence, we should consider the possibility of his
guilt of the gruesome murder!  This reflected the primary assumptions of
the Soviet (now Uzbek) judicial system that the accused _is_ guilty
unless he can somehow prove himself innocent -- almost an impossibility
in such a system.

Pam Cohen and I intervened separately with the Agudath Israel seeking
early clarification and a positive response to a straightforward case of
Pidyon Shvuyim ("redemption of captives").  I had a particular interest
in the matter: When I initiated the grass-roots movement for Soviet
Jewry in New York, 32 years ago, I'd been bitterly opposed by a whole
range of religious and secular groups, including people who claimed to
be associated with Agudath Israel.  I was therefore relieved when
Agudath Israel came out with a positive response.  I was gratified that
this took the form of a passionate and powerful plea to Uzbek President
Karimov signed by Rabbi Morris Sherer, head of the World Aguda.  The
contents of the letter were researched and put together by a brilliant
young professor of law, Professor Harry Reicher.  The text follows:

                                       World Executive/Office of the Chairman
                                       Agudath Israel World Organization
                                       84 William Street 
                                       New York, NY  10038
                                       (212) 797-9000
                                       January 26, 1996

Hon. Islam Karimov 
President of Uzbekistan 
u1 Uzbekistanskaya 43 
Uzbekistan 700163 
Fax: 011-7-3712-39-55-25

Dear Mr. President: 

     Re Dmitrii Gavrilovich Fattathov 
     Criminal Case No 2764 
     Yunas Abad Regional Court 

It is with a profound sense ol concern that we turn to you in connection
with the case of Mr. Dmitrii Gavrilovich Fattakhov.

We have received reports alleging that this young man is the victim of
human rights abuses which raise the nightmarish specter of the dark days
of the former Soviet regime -- an era the civilized world had hoped was
now firmiy relegated to the realm of history.

First, Mr. Fattakhov stands accused and convicted of a crime of murder
for which, according to our sources, there is apparently little or no
credible evidence linking him to the deed. In fact, we are told, there
is considerable evidence pointing to his innocence.

We are further advised that while in prison, Mr. Fattakhov has allegedly
been subjected to severe abuses which have resulted in a serious
deterioration of his physical and mental health; and that his mother has
been precluded from seeing him.

You will appreciate, Mr. President, that these are extremely serious
charges, so much so that they warrant your direct and immediate
attention.  We respectfully urge your personal intervention as
appropriate to prevent any further abuses, and with them, the tarnishing
of Uzbekistan's international image.

We ask you to do so under generally recognized principles of
international law, and also pursuant to provisions of your nation's
constitution, which you yourself so proudly proclaimed just three short
years ago. Articles 25 and 26 enshrine the principle of the rule of law,
among other things prohibiting arrest or taking into custody "except on
lawful grounds", and guaranteeing that court proceedings will be
conducted "in conformity with the law". Article 26 further proclaims
that "No one may be subject to torture, violence or any other cruel or
humiliating treatment."

These are stirring guarantees of individual llberties and human rights,
Mr. President, and we respectfully point out that you, as Head of State,
have a special responsibility under Article 43, which obliges the state
to "safeguard the rights and freedoms of citizens proclaimed by the

Agudath Israel World Organization is an 84 year old international
confederation of Orthodox Jewish communities across the globe. We are
concerned about this case not only because of our general interest in
human rights issues; not even only because of Mr. Fattakhov's own Jewish
ancestry; but also because we have been impressed with the strides
Uzbekistan has made in accommodating its Jewish citizenry, and we are
troubled by the possibility that the treatment of Mr. Fattakhov may
unjustly harm Uzbekistan's image among many Jews the world over.

We therefore reiterate our request, respectfully but urgently, that you
take personal interest in this matter. We urge you to review the human
rights allegations that have been raised, and to intervene as
appropriate to ensure that any wrong done to Mr. Fattakhov is set right.

Thank you. 

                                       Rabbi Morris Sherer 


End of Volume 23 Issue 46