4 AUGUST 1961, Page 14


SIR,—Mr. Leapman, writing to you last week, bases his criticism of Appeal for Amnesty on the prin- ciple that 'If the Appeal were successful, political upheavals would result.' This is the dictator's classic argument for locking up anyone anywhere

who happens to disagree with his government— Communists in Persia, democrats in Russia, 'Free- dom Riders' in the Southern States and so on.

Our principle is simply stated: we are for the right of the individual ever ywhere to hold and state his beliefs, providing that they do not advocate violence. We do not, to take tip Mr. Leapman's other challenge. support those who, like Blake,' conspire with foreign governments to overthrow their own.

We recognise, nevertheless, that there are govern- ments which feel they must. in order to ma'ritain the status quo, restrict the liberties of their dissenters. To meet this (and to avoid situations in which men have remained fifteen )ears at more in prison with scant or no malt we have two suggestions to make; One is that individuals should be able to 'appeal to an international tribunal. This. as tht. Lawless case demonstrated recently, is now, possible, under the European Convention on Human Rights. (Incident- ally, it is regrettable that the United Kingdom is one of the four countries which has refused to adopt the clause of the Convention which concedes this right.) Secondly, we suggest that there should be a much more liberal interpretation, of the right of asylum for those whose presence in their own country is regarded, by their government, as an em- barrassment.

One of the principal purposes of Amnesty is to lift the problem of the liberty of the individual out of the Cold War where it so quickly is sucked down out of sight. Another is to make it clear that this is a matter on which no one, Communist or anti- Communist, Protestant or Catholic, Ghanaian or South African. can throw stones without breaking a few of his own windows, Equally, we hope in time to demonstrate that on both sides of every `Curtain' there are men and women whose opinions are not Polarised, who are prepared to sponsor the i-ghts of those with whom they disagree.

I Mitre Court Buildings. EC1