In Memory of Yelena Bonner

AJC national radio message
June 21, 2011 – New York – AJC Executive Director David Harris, in his national radio commentary, pays tribute to Yelena Bonner, the longtime champion of human rights in the Soviet Union, who passed away over the weekend.

The AJC weekly radio messages are broadcast on the CBS radio network, before The Osgood File. All AJC radio commentaries since 2001 are available at


The full text of this week’s commentary follows:

Yelena Bonner, a champion of human rights, just passed away.

Born in the Soviet Union, her father was killed by Stalin, her mother was imprisoned in a labor camp.

Yelena Bonner courageously joined the human-rights movement in the 1960s.

She married the legendary Andrei Sakharov, the best known Soviet dissident. Together they formed a formidable human-rights couple.

They were threatened repeatedly and banished far from their Moscow home, but the Kremlin couldn’t silence them.

They continued to speak up for basic democratic freedoms.

They also spoke up for oppressed Soviet Jews, including their right to emigrate. And they staunchly defended democratic Israel, while the USSR mercilessly attacked it.

Sakharov won the Nobel Prize for Peace. Bonner accepted the award, as the Kremlin wouldn’t let him go to Oslo.

Sakharov died in 1989. Bonner died a few days ago. May their extraordinary example of moral courage serve as an inspiration to us all.


This is David Harris of AJC.Date: 6/21/2011
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