History of the Committee

The International Sakharov Committee is, as the only one of its kind, founded with direct encouragement by and participation of Andrei Sakharov. Wiser.org has this summary of the history and activities of the committee:


His idea [of an international human rights committee] was taken up by a group of emigres in Copenhagen who obtained permission to use an auditorium in the Danish Parliament building: the result was the First Sakharov Hearing in Copenhagen in 1975. Sakharov welcomed the idea and other hearings followed: Rome in 1977, Washington D.C. in 1979, Portugal in 1984 and London in 1985. Additionally, in November 1982, a hearing was held in Bonn (in collaboration with the International Society for Human Rights) on the use of forced labor in building the LNG pipeline from Siberia to Europe; in April 1984, a hearing was held on human rights violations in Cuba; and in October 1986, an Afghanistan Tribunal was held in Copenhagen in collaboration with the Afghanistan-Danish Friendship Society.

The object of these hearings is to expose human rights violations in the USSR and Eastern Europe, and to draw attention to the Helsinki Accords. Witnesses testifying at the hearings must have been directly involved in matters affecting human rights in the USSR and Eastern Europe. The hearings are financed by donations from emigre organizations, religious bodies and individuals.

The International Sakharov Committee is politically independent and has no religious or ideological standpoints.

Besides the hearings, the Committee arranges press conferences and meetings, including a 1984 conference on Soviet activities in Cuba and a 1986 conference on Afghanistan. It has also taken other initiatives: in October 1976, it proposed that Chilean political prisoner Luis Corvalan be exchanged for Soviet political prisoner Vladimir Bukovsky. The exchange took place at Zurich airport on December 18, 1976. Other exchanges have been proposed, without results.

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