Noam Chomsky, professor of language and linguistics at MIT, was one of seven prominent American activists to sign a statement condemning Soviet silencing policies which was presented to the World Peace Congress in Moscow on Monday.
The statement--read to the Commission on Social Progress and Human Rights by the Catholic leftist Rev. Paul Mayer--criticized the Soviet government for "a campaign to silence not only your intellectuals, but any Soviet citizens who seek to express their rights."
Among the other five leftists to sign the statement were the Rev. Daniel J. Berrigan, David McReynolds, a member of the War Resisters League, and David T. Dellinger who is currently on trial for contempt in the 1969 Chicago Eight case.
Chomsky said yesterday that the purpose of the letter was to "make it clear what people like us feel about things like this, as we have done many times before on issues such as the handling of political prisoners in Vietnam, racism in South Africa, and others."
"Russia is concerned with its international image in various circles," Chomsky said. "If they know they are being watched and that close attention is being paid to Russian dissent, it may relieve some of the pressure placed on the Russian citizens."
Chomsky also said that he and the six other signatorees felt that their leftist philosophies would give the statement more weight than similar statements presented by more conservative groups.
An official in the Washington office of the Soviet news agency, Tass, yesterday declined to respond to the statement.
The Commission on Social Progress and Human Rights is one of 14 workshops at the World Peace Congress, in which more than 3,000 delegates from 141 countries are participating.