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Yugoslavia urged to halt non-violent political arrests

LONDON -- Amnesty International Tuesday said it was urging the Yugoslav government to stop arresting people for non-violent political activities, including private writings and personal conversations.

In a report published Tuesday, the London-based international human rights organization said Yugoslavia's own statistics show the government arrested 2,208 people for 'political offenses' between 1980 and 1983.

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'In most cases on which Amnesty International has details the prisoners neither used nor advocated violence,' said an Amnesty statement released with the report.

The statement said the organization had adopted more than 200 of the prisoners as 'prisoners of conscience.'

The report said many arrests were carried out among nationalist or religious movements and among Yugoslavia's ethnic groups, including Croats, Serbs and Albanians.

Two-thirds of the adopted 'prisoners of conscience' are ethnic Albanians from Kosovo province on the Albanian border. According to the report, they were 'imprisoned for non-violent activity' -- advocating making Kosovo a republic in Yugoslavia's federal system.

The report said one of the prisoners, Daut Rashani, an 18-year-old high school student when arrested in 1981, was given six years in prison for 'endangering the social order' for allegedly writing poems and pamphlets with 'hostile content' and taking part in nationalist demostrations.

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Other Yugoslavs have been jailed for 'hostile propaganda' on the basis of private conversations, letters, films and pamphlets they have produced and for granting interviews to foreign journalists, the report said.

The Yugoslav government's own incomplete figures of political arrests in the 1980s indicate that a majority were for 'verbal offenses' and 'many for 'minor verbal offenses' such as making jokes about government leaders,' Amnesty said.

Dr. Ivan Zografski, a 71-year-old retired Bulgarian medical specialist living in Sarajevo, was sentenced to 5 years in jail and had his property consfiscated for 'denying the existence of the brotherhood and unity of Yugoslavia's people' and referring in an 'insulting manner' to the late President Josip Broz Tito, Amnesty said.

The report said the charges were based on conversations 'at his own home, in the homes of his friends and in cafes and restaurants' between 1979-83.

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