U.S. Peace Activists Denied East German Visas
VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ The Soviet Union and East Germany have denied visas to eight American peace activists, and they may not be able to deliver their messages from people in the West to Soviet citizens, one activist said Thursday.
″We are having many problems getting into the Soviet Union, and right now we are not certain what we are going to do,″ said Mary Hoffman, 30, a teacher from New York City.
″One of the alternatives that we were thinking of was walking through some of the countries in the East,″ she said. ″The other possibility would be to go to the Geneva arms talks.″
The group, which includes a ninth member - a Dutch woman - expects to make a decision Saturday, she added.
The activists set out March 1, 1984, at Point Conception, Calif., and have walked about 700 miles so far, preaching peace and brotherhood.
On Thursday, seven members demonstrated at Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral Square.
In a telephone interview, Ms. Hoffman told The Associated Press the tour was ″a walk of the people - a pilgrimage for life.″
″The basic pourpose of our trip is to carry messages of peace from the people in the West to the people in the East, from people to people,″ she said. ″There is so much misinformation between East and West... That is one of the major problems that is getting in the way of the peace movement.″
The group walked through parts of the United States, then flew from New York City last November to Ireland. They walked through parts of Ireland, England, France and West Germany.
Ms. Hoffman said the group initially planned to walk through the Soviet Union, but the Soviet Consulate in New York said they could not. So they decided to walk through East Germany and Poland to the Soviet border, and take a train to Moscow. But the Soviet Union and East Germany denied them visas.
″We have to discuss as a group what our next action is going to be, because we would like to complete the walk as best as possible,″ Ms. Hoffman said.
″We are carrying all those messages from people all over the United States and Western Europe, and we would like to deliver them to somebody who could represent the Eastern countries, because we really do believe that communication is the way to peace,″ she said.
With Ms. Hoffman are: Dale J. Outhouse, 27, Canandaigua, N.Y.; Debbi Reed, 36, Freeport, Ill.; Kevin Shay, 25, Dallas, Texas; Andy Rector, 35, of North Carolina, hometown unavailable; Fred Stevens, 35, Atlanta; Dennis Thomas, 30, San Jose, Calif; Adele Kushner, Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Annette Heop, Amsterdam.