Step Back in Time features news items from The Daily Star 25 and 50 years ago.
25 years ago
March 7,Text ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/SolidText ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/Solid$ID/NothingText ColorText Color$ID/NothingText ColorText Color 1988
More than 500 letters sent to the Greek government by the local chapter of Amnesty International probably contributed to the early release of a political prisoner there.
David Hatzinikoladu-Raptis, a Jehovah’s Witness and conscientious objector, was sent to prison in November of 1985 after refusing to serve in the Greek military on religious grounds, said Alan Sessions, a spokesman for Amnesty International Group 195.
The law allows conscientious objectors to serve in unarmed positions.
However, it was against the religious beliefs of Hatzinikoladu-Raptis to serve in an organization that promotes war, Sessions said. The Greek was sentenced to four years in prison.
Hatzinikoladu-Raptis was adopted by the local Amnesty International, which has members from Delaware and Otsego counties. After his adoption, 20 to 30 people sent letters to the Greek government for his release. He was released recently after serving two and a half years.
Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, who also wrote letters to the Greek government urging the prisoner’s release, is looking into the exact date he left the prison, said Sessions.
Also, a group in France put pressure on for the prisoner’s release through letter-writing to the European Parliament.
Sessions said Hatzinikoladu-Raptis’ prison sentence was in violation of a United Nations declaration of human rights stating the government should not prevent citizens from practicing their religion.
50 years ago
March 7,Text ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/SolidText ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/Solid$ID/NothingText ColorText Color$ID/NothingText ColorText Color 1963
Buddha’s likeness came to America, probably sometime in 1943, in a Japanese ammunition case packed in grass plucked from a Burmese field, after nearly circling the globe.
It came to Oneonta as the possession of Assistant Fire Chief Donald Rarick, the man who, as a member of the 464th Anti-aircraft Battalion attached to the 10th Air Force, rescued the alabaster statute from a field.
Once part of a larger Buddhist shrine at Bhamo in Burma, the statuette was one of a multitude of such two-foot high, 75-pound figures which adored the base of a larger statue.
Accidentally blasted apart in a skirmish between Allied and Japanese troops or aircraft, the statuette was found by Mr. Rarick.
In short order the statuette turned up at the Pennsylvania home where Mrs. Rarick was then living. It finally arrived in Oneonta in 1945.
Buddhist students in Oneonta said the figurine is made of white alabaster and is approximately 2,500 years old.
And that is the history, as the Oneontans know it, of the statute of “The Great God Budd” which now occupies a locked cabinet in the basement of City Hall.