The Keeper - A Podcast Brought To You By The Lantos Foundation

 
podcast final square.png
 

The Lantos Foundation is excited to announce the launch of our podcast The Keeper. Hosted by our own President, Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, The Keeper will feature in depth conversations about some of the most pressing matters of justice in our world and will welcome some of the most important human rights leaders of our time as guests. 

We take our name from Congressman Lantos’ personal conviction, fully lived out in his own life, that we have a moral and ethical obligation to be our brother and sister’s keeper. This guiding principle led Congressman Lantos to found the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and use his eloquence, leadership, and personal passion to advocate fiercely on behalf of those whose human rights were being trampled in every corner of the world.

Our inaugural season will begin with a fascinating interview with two fearless advocates for democracy and freedom in China - Dr. Yang Jianli and Mr. Jared Genser. Yang Jianli is the founder of Initiatives for China and a former jailed human rights activist. Jared is the founder of Freedom Now and one of the most effective and admired human rights lawyers in the world. These extraordinary men address a wide range of topics from the shameful death of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo at the hands of Chinese authorities, to the communist regimes fear that the outside world will recognize how fragile its hold on power really is.

As a special preview, we welcome you to hear our first episode before The Keeper's official release on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. Please join us for this important discussion. We hope to gain each of you as a Podcast subscriber when The Keeper is officially released to the public later this month. We hope that you will find the premiere episode and each to come entertaining, thought provoking, meaningful, and inspiring. 

Click here to listen to a special preview episode of The Keeper

The Keeper - Episode 1

Recently, Katrina sat down to speak with Mr. Jared Genser and Dr. Yang Jianli. Jared is the founder of Freedom Now, an independent nongovernmental organization that works to free prisoners of conscience around the world. He is often referred to in the media as "the extractor" for his work as a leading human rights lawyer on behalf of prisoners of conscience. Dr. Yang Jianli, founder of Initiatives for China, is a Chinese dissident who was detained and imprisoned by the Chinese government in the early 2000's for his activism. Katrina spoke with these two extraordinary men about how they came to be human rights activists, the shameful death of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo in Chinese custody, the Chinese governments moral bankruptcy, the underlying political weakness that the regime is desperate to hide, and a bold prediction from Jianli regarding the Chinese regimes inevitable end. 

Anti-Genocide Activist Father Patrick Desbois to Receive 2017 Lantos Human Rights Prize

The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice is proud to announce that our highest honor, the Lantos Human Rights Prize, will be awarded to Father Patrick Desbois, President and founder of the international human rights organization Yahad In-Unum. Father Desbois is being recognized as the 2017 Lantos Prize recipient for his unparalleled work in uncovering the lost stories of over one million victims of the “Holocaust by Bullets” period of World War II as well as his continuing fight against anti-Semitism and genocide throughout the world. 

The Lantos Foundation will present their most distinguished prize at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on October 26, 2017, at the U.S. Capitol. Father Desbois joins a distinguished community of prior Lantos Laureates that includes the Dalai Lama, Hillary Clinton, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, and most recently Vian Dakhil (aka “ISIS’ Most Wanted”), who was recognized for her courageous defense of the Yazidi people. It is fitting that Father Desbois should receive the Prize the year following Ms. Dakhil, as he has been outspoken in defense of her Yazidi community - a 21st century victim of genocide at the hands of ISIS.

“At a time when anti-Semitic acts are surging globally, Father Desbois’ work is more important than ever,” said Lantos Foundation President Katrina Lantos Swett. “Exposing the truth, honoring the victims, and memorializing these events are vital safeguards against a repetition of these horrors. But Father Desbois’ work is about more than rescuing and remembering the past. His truly universal calling is to act on behalf of all victims of mass violence, persecution, and murder. The Lantos Foundation is truly honored to recognize him for this noble mission.”

The Lantos Foundation established the Lantos Human Rights Prize in 2009 to honor and bring attention to heroes of the human rights movement. It is awarded annually to an individual or organization that best exemplifies the Foundation’s mission, namely to be a vital voice standing up for the values of decency, dignity, freedom, and justice in every corner of the world. The prize also serves to honor the memory and legacy of the late Congressman Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to the U.S. Congress and a leading advocate for human rights during his nearly three decades as a U.S. Representative.

Lantos Foundation Successfully Lobbies to Keep Anti-Semitism Envoy

This morning the US State Department has proposed cutting nearly half its Special Envoy and At-Large Ambassadorial positions in order to streamline and refocus operations. It gives me great satisfaction to report to you that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has decided to retain the posts of both the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism and the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. The Lantos Foundation is proud to have played a role in bringing about this important victory.  

Earlier this year, we launched the 2017 Solidarity Sabbath Initiative re-asserting our nation’s commitment to lead on defending religious freedom and combatting the scourge of anti-Semitism. We organized an unprecedented letter from former Ambassadors for Religious Freedom and Special Envoys to Combat Anti-Semitism from both Republican and Democratic Administrations in which they urged the current Administration to uphold our values by appointing outstanding individuals to fill these posts which were still vacant at the time. 

In the months following our Solidarity Sabbath efforts, there have been mixed signals from the State Department about our requests. In a positive development, late July brought the appointment of an Ambassador for International Religious Freedom. But as you may recall, during Congressional testimony earlier this summer, Secretary Tillerson had suggested that the Administration was considering leaving the Special Envoy to Combat Anti-Semitism post unfilled. We immediately wrote to Secretary Tillerson urging the Administration to retain this post as a key component of America’s efforts to combat global anti-Semitism.

I reminded him that my late father, Congressman Tom Lantos, played the lead role in passing the legislation that created the post of Special Envoy. I know my father would not stand idly by at a time of growing anti-Semitism if our government were to downgrade our commitment to fighting against this insidious evil. In our letter to the Secretary I wrote: “I am baffled that the Administration would ignore the hard won wisdom and experience of Congress’ only Holocaust survivor and choose to leave this post vacant. This is disrespectful not only to the memory of my father but to all those who have fought against anti-Semitism for so long.”

It is good news indeed that the Administration will keep this essential office open and we intend to be vigilant in ensuring that an individual of the utmost skill and expertise is appointed to fill this position. America has long been a beacon to the world when it comes to combating anti-Semitism in all its forms. In the aftermath of the horrifying events in Charlottesville just a few weeks ago, we must redouble our efforts to confront and defeat anti-Semitism both at home and abroad. Only by doing so can we retain the mantle of moral leadership on this fundamental question of human rights and justice.

 

Katrina Lantos Swett
President
Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice 

Human Rights Activists Call on Trump to Hold China Responsible for Liu Xiaobo's Death

August 15, 2017
For Immediate Release
 

Contact:
Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett
(603) 226-3636

The Chen Guangcheng Foundation
cgcfoundation1@gmail.com

 

Human Rights Activists Call on Trump to Hold China Responsible for Liu Xiaobo's Death

A broad group of human rights activists including the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice and The Chen Guancheng Foundation have called on President Trump to apply the Global Magnitsky Act to those in the Chinese government responsible for the death of Liu Xiaobo.

The international community continues to be alarmed about the fate of Liu Xiaobo's widow, Liu Xia. This family has suffered an unspeakably unjust tragedy. We cannot stand by and allow such tragedy to be repeated. World governments must use their influence to urge the Chinese government to release her immediately. They must also do whatever is in their power to hold China accountable for these injustices.

"Liu Xiaobo’s death at the hands of the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the ongoing abuse of his widow are both a personal tragedy and an egregious affront to the civilized world and a challenge to democratic nations.

By its conduct in the case of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia, the Chinese government has made it clear that it believes it can violate international standards of law and justice with impunity. The United States must now use the Global Magnitsky Act to send an equally strong message that this nation, founded in liberty and justice, will stand by its principles and the laws that govern and guide it."

Statement on Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom Appointment

The Lantos Foundation welcomes the announcement that President Trump will move forward with filling the post of Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom. In May of this year as part of the Foundation's annual Solidarity Sabbath Initiative, we called upon the Trump Administration to act quickly to fill both the Ambassador at Large post as well as the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. With today's announcement that the administration will nominate Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas as our Religious Freedom Ambassador, the President has taken an important step towards ensuring that America will continue to offer global leadership to those who suffer from brutal religious persecution around the world.We urge the President to move swiftly to now name a Special Envoy to Combat Anti-Semitism. The need for this post is as great as for the Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom and we look forward to hearing a positive announcement about this position in the near future.   

Senator John McCain

Senator John McCain is an American hero and one of the finest public servants our nation has ever had. Tom Lantos deeply admired his friend and colleague and it has been a great privilege for the Lantos Foundation to work with Senator McCain to advance human rights and justice around the world. He is still the brave fighter who served our country so many decades ago and we are praying that he will win this new battle in his life. 

Lantos Foundation condemns Russia's outrageous decision to ban Jehovah's Witnesses

"Russia's recent outrageous decision to ban the Jehovah's Witnesses from existing as a recognized faith community in Russia is a complete violation of the protections for freedom of religion and belief in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since Russia embarked on this unlawful path of destruction against a peaceful community of believers, Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia have experienced a 7 fold increase in incidents of violence and harassment directed at their community members. People of goodwill from all faith communities as well as all those who cherish freedom of conscience rights must stand in solidarity with the Jehovah's Witnesses of Russia. The Lantos Foundation calls upon leaders in Congress and the Trump Administration to take action on behalf of this small faith community and we once again call on the Trump Administration to move forward with the appointment of an Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom. As religious freedom abuses continue to occur around the world, it is vital that the United States government have a high level representative of our government in a position to advocate on behalf of persecuted people." - Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President

The Passing of Liu Xiaobo

Today, we mourn the loss of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Liu Xiaobo. Earlier this month, the world received the news that Xiaobo was released from a Chinese prison, but what should have been joyous news was clouded with sadness as we learned that he was in the final stages of terminal liver cancer. He would take his last breath outside the prison walls, but his death would still be at the hands of China’s brutal regime.

In 2010 the Lantos Foundation was privileged to be part of a delegation of human rights activists, mostly Chinese dissidents, who were representing Liu Xiaobo when the imprisoned Laureate received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. We remember well the poignancy of the empty chair on the stage representing the absent honoree who was sitting in a Chinese prison. Tragically his chair will remain forever empty as Liu has become the first Nobel Laureate to die in state custody since the German pacifist, Carl von Ossietzky, died at the hands of his Nazi tormentors in 1938. What a shameful distinction for the Chinese government to share.

But while this peaceful defender of human rights has been silenced, his courageous life speaks volumes and his example and his words will continue to inspire his countrymen and those who fight for democracy and human rights in every corner of the world.

Liu’s death has been headline news around the world but in a very real sense he represents thousands of forgotten individuals who are imprisoned and tortured at the hands of brutal authoritarian regimes but whose stories are never covered in the media. If American advocacy for human rights and justice is to mean anything at all, our government must do more to support these political prisoners and to hold accountable the governments and individuals who so brazenly abuse their fundamental rights. One way of doing this is through the vigorous enforcement of the Global Magnitsky Act.  

In April, President Trump pledged the Administration’s commitment to the “robust and thorough enforcement” of the Global Magnistky Act, saying, “My Administration is actively identifying persons and entities to whom the Act may apply and are collecting the evidence to apply it.” The evidence in the case of Liu Xiaobo is clear and we call on the Administration to take action against the responsible parties under the Magnitsky Act.

Liu Xiaobo’s legacy of integrity, love, and sacrifice will far outlive the deeds of those who have persecuted and imprisoned him. Long after these persecutors have been forgotten on the ash heap of history, his life, words, and deeds will continue to light the way for future generations.

Lantos Foundation : "Don't Disrespect Congress' Only Holocaust Survivor" - Lantos Foundation calls on Trump Administration to fill post of Special envoy to combat Anti-Semitism

June 28, 2017
For Immediate Release
Contact: Denise L. Perron, Executive Director
(603) 226-3636
deniseperron@lantosfoundation.org

Lantos Foundation : "Don't Disrespect Congress' Only Holocaust Survivor"
Lantos Foundation calls on Trump Administration to fill post of Special envoy to combat Anti-Semitism

CONCORD, NH – On Tuesday, the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice once again called on the Trump Administration to appoint a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. In a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Lantos Foundation President Katrina Lantos Swett urged the appointment of a qualified individual to the post created via the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004, a bill written and championed by her late father, Congressman Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to the U.S. Congress.

The latest push for this crucial position comes in response to concerning statements from Secretary Tillerson and proposed budget cuts that will leave the office of the Special Envoy unstaffed as of the first of July.

Under questioning at a Congressional hearing last week, Secretary Tillerson disputed the need for the Special Envoy for anti-Semitism. He suggested that having a high level official focused on monitoring and combatting anti-Semitism could weaken such efforts by other personnel within the State Department. His testimony was met with bi-partisan skepticism and disagreement.

A broad group of lawmakers and various Jewish organizations have since stepped up efforts urging the Administration to appoint a Special Envoy and the Lantos Foundation urgently joins them in calling for swift action to fill this post. The Lantos Foundation also focused its 2017 Solidarity Sabbath efforts on pressuring the Administration to appoint both this position and the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.

 Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Foundation said;

“There is strong support across the political spectrum for the Trump Administration to fill this vital position as quickly as possible. Failure to do so sends a troubling message, to friend and foe alike, that the Administration is downgrading its focus on fighting anti-Semitism. 

While I agree that the fight against anti-Semitism should not be exclusive to one mission at the State Department, there absolutely must be a dedicated leader in this crucial fight. My father understood this better than anyone else. His deep understanding of these issues was unparalleled in the Congress, which is why he had the strong support of his colleagues for the legislation creating the Special Envoy post. 

I am baffled that the Administration would ignore the hard won wisdom and experience of Congress’ only Holocaust survivor and choose to leave this post vacant. This is disrespectful not only to the memory of my father, but to all those who have fought against anti-Semitism for so long.”

The Lantos Foundation was established in 2008 to carry on the human rights legacy of the late Congressman Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to the U.S. Congress and a prominent advocate for human rights during his nearly three decades as a U.S. Representative. The mission of the Lantos Foundation is to be a vital voice standing up for the values of decency, dignity, freedom, and justice in every corner of the world.