The worldwide campaign to free the Soviet
Hare Krsna's gathers momentum.
At a press conference in front of the Soviet consulate in Sydney, Australia, Prahlada dasa, the thirteen-year-old devotee whose song Mr. Gorbachev, Please Let Our Friends Go was released last year by EMI, one of the world's largest record companies, reads a statement requesting freedom for the imprisoned Soviet Hare Krsna devotees. EMI was so happy with the song's success and so sympathetic to its message that they went on to record Prahlada's album. Through the Eyes of a Child, promoting it with a rock video of the song We Want to See the 21st Century. Proceeds from record sales are funding a drive to collect a million signatures on petitions demanding that the Soviet government release Hare Krsna devotees held in prisons, labor camps, and psychiatric hospitals.
In the same spirit, devotees and friends are gathering petitions in many other countries, and the Kremlin is receiving tens of thousands of postcards bearing photos of the imprisoned devotees and requesting their release. Krsna devotee Marie-Anne Farrow, dressed in her bridal gown, announced on August 15, 1985, at a press conference in front of the Soviet embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, that she would fast there until Soviet officials released her fiance, Vedavyasa dasa (Valentin Z. Yurov), from a psychiatric hospital in Moscow. Swedish newspapers gave her hunger strike daily front-page coverage, and her image appeared on nightly television newscasts, generating tremendous sympathy among the Swedish people. In September the Soviets finally capitulated and put Vedavyasa on a plane to Stockholm.
Since then, Vedavyasa has traveled extensively throughout the world speaking out strongly on behalf of the Soviet devotees who remain imprisoned.
At the site of the November 1985 Reagan-Gorbachev summit meeting in Geneva, Hare Krsna devotees staged massive demonstrations that drew worldwide media coverage.
At the November 1986 meeting in Vienna of the Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the international organization that monitors compliance with the human rights provisions of the Helsinki accords. Hare Krsna members again called attention to the plight of imprisoned Soviet devotees.
The Committee to Free Soviet Hare Krishnas organized protest demonstrations and staged a well-received exhibition at a human rights conference organized by Paris-based Resistance International. The committee's U.S. delegation later submitted to Congress a detailed account of Soviet violations of the human rights of Russian Hare Krsna devotees. Amnesty International continues its vigorous support for the persecuted Russian devotees, willingly providing assistance in locating arrested devotees.