After a long holiday interlude, the Madrid conference is back in session reviewing the 1975 Helsinki accords on human rights and European security. But there has apparently been no holiday for Soviet repression of citizens trying to monitor observance of the helsinki rights agreements in their own backyard.
These citizen-observers are among the three types of dissenter especially hard hit in the Soviet Union during the past 15 months, according to an Amnesty International report a week before the Madrid meeting reconvened. The other two categories are national rights campaigners in the Soviet Union's non- Russian republics such as the Ukraine and religious believers including Baptists and Seventh Day Adventists.
Of course the whole "sustained Soviet crackdown on dissenters," in Amnesty's phrase, is contrary to the spirit of Helsinki. It is exemplified by such long sentences for "anti-Soviet agitation" as the 15 years of imprisonment and internal exile meted out to Estonian activist Mart Niklus this month. United States delegate Max Kampelman understandably did not let the Madrid talks resume without mentioning nine trials and two arrests of Soviet dissenters just during the five weeks the delegates were away.
The Helsinki security and cooperation conference dealt with more than rights, as Soviet officials always remind everybody. But Moscow does not help its delegates on any matter by sending them off wi th baggage like the above.