Negotiating Human Rights: In Defence of Dissidents during the Soviet Era: A Memoir by Christina Isajiw
30 October 2014— The new CIUS Press publication, Negotiating Human Rights: In Defence of Dissidents during the Soviet Era: A Memoir by Christina Isajiw with a foreword by Bohdan Nahaylo, is one of the first insider’s accounts of the efforts during the 1970s and 1980s on the part of Western Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) and their workers to bring aid and support to Ukrainian dissidents and activists.
With passion and a novel perspective, Ms. Isajiw uses her first-hand experience working in defense of human rights in the years following the Helsinki Accords to shed light on a tumultuous period of Ukrainian history.
Beginning with her engagement in Amnesty International in 1973 and her subsequent work with the Human Rights Commission of the World Congress of Free Ukrainians, Ms. Isajiw recounts the struggle for freedom and recognition of human rights under the oppression of communism in Soviet-era Ukraine. At a time when cultural revival and national sentiment burgeoning in Ukraine was met with punitive measures and brutality, the courage and actions of human rights
activists and supporters like Christina Isajiw helped usher in democratization in Eastern Europe. This book provides insight into the evolution of the Helsinki Process and an analysis of the
promotion of human rights through Western commitment and political activism, while allowing a rare glimpse of Ukraine on the eve of the Soviet Union’s dissolution.
Christina Isajiw was inspired to write her book when she realized that while many memoirs of dissidents and political prisoners existed, there were no accounts written about the work done by the people who supported them through NGOs. The resulting work is a testament to the dedication of NGOs and individuals such as herself to the promotion of the democratic process in the former USSR and the release of individuals whose human rights were being violated. In
documenting the revolutionary changes that occurred within the framework of the Helsinki Process and intergovernmental negotiations, Ms. Isajiw bestows praise and recognition on all
those who fought for human rights, democracy, and national identity.
Christina Isajiw is the former director of the Human Rights Commission of the World Congress of Free Ukrainians (currently the Ukrainian World Congress). She spent over twenty-five years
lobbying in defense of dissidents and human rights activists in the former USSR. A leader in the Ukrainian-Canadian community, Ms. Isajiw has lent her voice and memories to various publications and panels on the subject of political activism and non-conformism within the Ukrainian context.
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