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British human rights organisations and Soviet dissent, 1965-1985

  • Hurst, Mark
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2014
OpenGrey Repository


This thesis develops the literature on the role of human rights in the Cold War by highlighting the impact of British human rights organisations in the response to Soviet dissent. It argues that human rights groups played an essential role in compiling and distributing information on Soviet dissenters to all levels of British society. These groups all held empiricism at the centre of their campaigns, utilising an array of information to support their activism. This approach entailed the development of relationships between groups, which led to a network of activists, all working towards supporting Soviet dissenters. The first chapter of th is thesis assesses Amnesty International's output on Soviet dissenters, focusing on the groups publications. Amnesty's translation of the samizdat journal The Chronicle of Current Events and its own publication Prisoners of Conscience in the USSR were influential on journalists and other human rights groups. The high level of research produced by Amnesty in this period was in deep contrast to its overstretched research department, who are considered in depth. The second chapter focuses on groups formed to respond to the Soviet political abuse of psychiat ry as a way to suppress political dissidents. It explores how groups such as the Working Group on the Internment of Dissenters in Mental Hospitals and the Campaign Against Psychiatric Abuse campaigned on behalf of dissidents, and demonstrates the influence that they had on official groups such as the Royal College of Psychiatrists. The final chapter examines the response to religious persecution in the Soviet Union, focusing on the demonstrative campaigning of the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry (the 35's) and the more academic Keston College. This chapter demonstrates how despite the outward differences between these two organisations, they held much in common such as a reliance on an empirical method in their campaigns. / EThOS - Electronic Theses Online Service / GB / United Kingdom

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