Remarks to Soviet
Dissidents at Spaso House in
thank you all, and welcome to Spaso House. After the
discussions we've just had I thought it might be appropriate for me to begin by
letting you know why I so wanted this meeting to take place. You see, I wanted
to convey to you that you have the prayers and support of the American people,
indeed of people throughout the world. I wanted to convey this support to you
that you might in turn convey it to others so that all those working for human
rights throughout this vast land, from the Urals to
one capacity, of course, I speak as a head of government. The
the past 3 years more than 300 political and religious prisoners have been
released from labor camps. Fewer dissidents and believers have been put in
prisons and mental hospitals. And in recent months, more people have been
permitted to emigrate or reunite with their families. The
of religion -- in the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ``Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience,
and religion.'' I'm hopeful the Soviet Government will permit all the peoples
Freedom of speech -- again in the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ``Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.'' It is my fervent hope for you and your country that there will soon come a day when no one need fear prison for offenses that involve nothing more than the spoken or written word.
Freedom of travel -- I've told the General Secretary how heartened we are that during the past year the number of those permitted to emigrate has risen. We're encouraged as well that the number of those permitted to leave for short trips, often family visits, has gone up. And yet the words of the Universal Declaration go beyond these steps: ``Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his own country.'' It is our hope that soon there will be complete freedom of travel.
In particular, I've noted in my talks here the many who have been denied the right to emigrate on the grounds that they held secret knowledge, even though their secret work had ended years before and their so-called secrets had long since become either public knowledge or obsolete. Such cases must be rationally reviewed.
And finally, institutional changes to make
progress permanent. I've come to
And here I would like to speak to you not as a head of government but as a man, a fellow human being. I came here hoping to do what I could to give you strength. Yet I already know it is you who have strengthened me, you who have given me a message to carry back. While we press for human rights through diplomatic channels, you press with your very lives, day in, day out, year after year, risking your jobs, your homes, your all.
If I may, I want to give you one thought from my heart. Coming here, being with you, looking into your faces, I have to believe that the history of this troubled century will indeed be redeemed in the eyes of God and man, and that freedom will truly come to all. For what injustice can withstand your strength, and what can conquer your prayers? And so, I say with Pushkin: ``It's time my friend, it's time. The heart begs for peace, the days fly past, it's time, my friend, it's time.''
Could I play a little trick on you and say something that isn't written here? Sometimes when I'm faced with an unbeliever, an atheist, I am tempted to invite him to the greatest gourmet dinner that one could ever serve and, when we finished eating that magnificent dinner, to ask him if he believes there's a cook. Thank you all, and God bless you.
Note: The President spoke at in the ballroom at the U.S. Ambassador's residence.