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CHRISTINA ISAJIW


Medical Technologist, Director of Human Rights Commission, World Congress of Free Ukrainians

Date and Place of Birth: Peremyshl (Przemysl), Poland


Date of Interview: June 17, 2016

Place of Interview: Toronto, Ontario

Interviewer: Adriana Szczurko

Length of Interview: 00:56:32 (raw)



(Excerpt):


I: Tell us a little bit about your book

CI: It essentially tells a two-prong story, how this Human Rights Commission began, how it evolved. How I, first of all, and the people that worked with me, how we learned as went along. It talks about the pitfalls we saw in working with politicians, primarily Americans, because America was very much behind the Helsinki Accords and America was very much in bringing down the Soviet Union, in the sense of doing everything it could to bring back the incarcerated and there were thousands, literally thousands, in the Gulag. Helsinki is a three-pronged process. It involved disarmament, which the Soviets wanted; they proposed that they wanted disarmament. It involved economic exchanges, and the United States brought in the human rights. The Soviets very reluctantly agreed to the human rights aspect of it. They thought that they could just keep pulling the wool over the eyes of the West, and continue as Putin does now, and that nobody would call them on it. The Americans were the strong thrust in this process. The British then came in, as did the Canadians. Germany and France was behind but lukewarm in the beginning. They decided that yes, disarmament would go along hand-in-hand with human rights if that’s what the Soviets wanted. And slowly but surely, it took 20 years.



CROSS REFERENCES:


• Christina Isajiw’s husband Wsevolod W. Isajiw was interviewed by Danylo Darewych on November 16, 2015 for the Oral History of Ukrainian Canada Project. File #373, (Video).


Christina Isajiw’s book Negotiating Human Rights: In Defence of Dissidents During the Soviet Era: A Memoir. CIUS Press, Edmonton, AB: 2014. 


The interviews can be accessed at the UCRDC. Please contact us at: office@ucrdc.org

excerpt from the Interview with CHRISTINA ISAJIW
ORAL HISTORY OF UKRAINIAN CANADA