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Peace and Human Rights (1986)

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II. Expression of Protest by the Opposing Faction: Statement Regarding the Preparations for the “Peace and Human Rights Seminar”

[ . . . ]

There was agreement to continue work on a seminar, to form working groups on various subjects, to have an editorial committee draft a new petition whose contents are more specific than the present one and to submit this to the synods of the Protestant state churches, and to appoint a group of three spokespersons. The spokespersons’ sole function will be to inform the church leadership and the hosts of the parochial church council of the status of our work and to represent the opinions of the preparation committee. Content-related and organizational work in the preparation phase should finally be better coordinated. March 1986 was fixed as the target date for a new seminar. Also, the working groups were nominally constituted, and it was agreed that the entire group of people organizing the seminar should be convened for all important decisions and in special situations.

At a later meeting in December 1985, the preparation committee sent the aforementioned petition to the synods.

At the next meeting on January 9, 1986, several interested people were told that their presence had not been intended, since a coordinating group comprising the three speakers and the conveners of the working groups had already been formed on November 23, 1985, and they were not part of that group. But since such a decision obviously contradicts grassroots democratic principles – also in the view of the coordinating group – those people were allowed to stay. At this meeting, the decision was made to draft an informational letter to peace groups and friends [here] in the GDR who are interested in the seminar. The text was to have an exclusively informal character and to provide information on the status of preparations for the seminar.

On February 3, RIAS and SFB* announced that representatives of various peace groups had met in East Berlin and decided to make human rights the focus of GDR-wide peace work. The basis of this was a so-called Document III of a “Peace and Human Rights Initiative.” This was how most people involved in organizing the seminar found out that such a “document” existed, since it was not delivered to the Berlin peace groups. This omission constitutes a violation of the instructions given on January 9, 1986. Attempts were made later to shift responsibility for this onto others.

The lone authors of this letter are the three speakers, who showed the letter – mind you, already in duplicated
form – to only five members of the coordinating group prior to its dissemination.

The high-handed, autocratic actions of the speakers’ group in composing the so-called Document III constitute a major breach of trust. The portions of the text that had not been agreed upon pertain to:

1. political assessments that anticipate the possible results of the seminar, which has yet to be held;
2. the announcement of intentions for GDR-wide human rights work,
3. the labeling of the statement of November 16, 1985, the petition of December 1985, and the “information” of January 24, 1986, as “Documents I to III”;
4. the pretension of an “annually rotating” group of speakers to represent the group publicly;
5. the transformation of the preparation committee involved in organizing the seminar into a “Peace and Human Rights Initiative.”

* RIAS [Radio in the American Sector] and SFB [Sender Freies Berlin] were two radio stations in West Berlin – trans.

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