Wiesenthal Center Mourns Passing of Human Rights Giant Dr. Yelena Bonner

June 20, 2011

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, along with its 400,000 members mourn, the passing of human rights giant Dr. Yelena Bonner.

“Dr. Bonner and her husband Dr Andrei Sakharov were the leading activists for human dignity and the rights of the individual during the final decades of the Soviet Union. The KGB rightly saw this incredible couple as a threat to the entire Soviet system, and mercilessly oppressed them in Moscow and in exile in Gorky; but the authorities never succeeded in breaking their resolve and commitment to human rights,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “The Jewish people owe a special debt of gratitude as the Sakharovs courageously stood up for the rights of Soviet Jewish Refuseniks during the long, bitter and ultimately successful campaign to gain the right to emigrate to Israel and the West.

One of the great highlights of our institution's history was being able to present through her children, the Simon Wiesenthal Humanitarian Laureate to the late Dr. Sakharov and Dr. Bonner. May her great achievements be a source of solace to her family and inspiration to all freedom loving people,” Rabbi Hier concluded.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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