Bent Boel: Human Rights Policy From Below? The International Sakharov Hearing, Copenhagen, October 1975. The International Sakharov Hearings (1975–1985), have been hailed as “one of the most established tools for informing the West” about the human rights situation in the USSR, and yet very little has been written about them. This article tries to shed light on the origins of the process, i.e., the First International Sakharov Hearing, which was held in response to Andrei Sakharov’s “Moscow Appeal” (February 1974). The hearing was originally suggested in June 1974, but it only took place after a lengthy process in Copenhagen, October 1975. The existing, rather sparse, literature focuses on the travails of the hearing, and, in particular, Soviet counter-measures. It also tends to highlight the relative success of such policies in the short term: the KGB managed to influence the Danish media coverage and Soviet pressure may have been instrumental in ensuring that the Danish Social Democratic government kept a low profile during the hearing. Such a narrative, however, needs to be amended. Firstly, the International Sakharov Hearing was an amazing success story: a tiny, obscure, and allegedly rather dubious group (the “Common Committee of East Exiles in Denmark”), initially without any parliamentary support, managed to gather significant establishment support and to obtain the privilege of holding a hearing in Christiansborg, the Danish Parliament building, about a theme likely to cause trouble in Denmark’s relationship with the Soviet Union. Secondly, while Anker Jørgensens government kept a low profile, his party was actually first among the major Danish parties to accept the proposal to hold the meeting. Thirdly, the hearing’s key opponent was the Liberal Party (“Venstre”), which was hostile both while it was in government and after it lost power in the January 1975 elections. Fourthly, while the hearing, certainly, was harshly criticized in the media, such coverage is most likely better explained by what happened at the gathering than by KGB manipulation or political bias in the press. Finally, a number of issues are in need of further investigation, including the concrete impact of real (KGB) or alleged (CIA) actions taken by foreign secret services on the Sakharov Hearing and the role of transnational Eastern European exile networks.
|Tidsskrift||Denmark. Kongelige Bibliotek. Fund og Forskning|
|Status||Udgivet - 2011|