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.

Statement from Dr. Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation, on the release of Nobel Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo

"Today, the world received word that the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Liu Xiaobo was released from Chinese prison. What should have been an occasion of joy and celebration is instead a somber moment of reflection. It is reported that this brave human rights activist is suffering from terminal liver cancer. Following just a few days after the tragic death of Otto Warmbier at the hands of a brutal North Korean government, it is a stark reminder of the cruel indifference of regimes that maliciously and regularly trample on the most basic human rights.

Liu Xiaobo was an eloquent advocate for democracy and human rights in China. He received the highest recognition the world can bestow when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010 - the first Chinese citizen to be so honored. I was privileged to be there in Oslo for the ceremony when he received the Prize but sadly, Liu was languishing in a Chinese jail and the ceremony took place around his empty chair. Even his wife, Liu Xia was forbidden to travel to Norway to receive the prize for her husband and she has lived in complete isolation under house arrest for the past 7 years. 

There is no celebration at the release of this brave human rights hero. Only condemnation for a regime that despite its wealth, power, and size, shows itself to be a moral midget when it comes to honoring the fundamental rights of its citizens. We pray that Liu Xiaobo and his wife will be comforted in the knowledge that his courageous example is an inspiration to people around the world who are fighting for a more just and decent world. Our prayers are with him and the Chinese people on whose behalf he has made such a great sacrifice."

Lantos Foundation Welcomes Airing of Documentary Exposing Inconvenient Truths About Anti-Semitism in Europe

June 20, 2017

For Immediate Release

Contact: Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett

(603) 226-3636

Lantos Foundation Welcomes Airing of Documentary Exposing Inconvenient Truths About Anti-Semitism in Europe
Calls on German Television Channel Not to Attempt to Discredit this Important Film



The Lantos Foundation is pleased that Germany’s Channel 1 has responded to growing criticism and has agreed to air an important documentary film that exposes some powerful truths about the prevalence and nature anti-Semitism in Europe.

The acclaimed documentary, “Chosen and Excluded - Jew Hatred in Europe,” was commissioned and approved by the German public broadcaster WDR. The film illuminates the inconvenient truth that a significant component of the anti-Semitism in Europe is driven by rabid anti-Zionist and anti-Israel sentiment, much of it coming from the political left and from immigrant Muslim communities.

Initially, the documentary was censored for daring to tell these uncomfortable truths and there was an effort to keep the film from seeing the light of day. The German newspaper Bild obtained a pirated copy of the film and made it available on its website for 24 hours. As criticism over the effort to censor the film has mounted, Channel 1 has agreed to air the program on Wednesday, June 21st at 10:15 pm. 

Lantos Foundation President, Katrina Lantos Swett, whose father Tom Lantos was the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to the U.S. Congress, said:

“The sad reality is that most contemporary European anti-Semitism seeks to masquerade as legitimate criticism of Israel. However, it is easily unmasked as the same old ugly racism and Jew hatred. This is unmistakably evidenced through its attempted demonization and de-legitimization of the Jewish state and the outrageous double standard  that is consistently applied only to Israel.”

Lantos Swett continued:

“This ugly anti-Semitism that is stalking much of Europe must be exposed, called out, and confronted.”

According to news reports, the screening of the documentary will be followed by a panel discussion addressing alleged “shortcomings” of the documentary. The filmmakers, Joachim Schroder and Sophie Hafner, have expressed concerns that this post broadcast panel will be stacked with critics who will attempt to put the film itself on trial in an effort to “whitewash” the initial decision to suppress the documentary.

The Lantos Foundation calls upon the German Broadcaster Channel 1 to guarantee that this will not be a “stacked tribunal” by including the filmmakers on the panel and ensuring that the other participants will represent a balanced cross section of participants.

As Lantos Swett said:

“Unless German television wants to ignite another round of outrage and criticism, they must invite the documentary filmmakers to be part of the proposed panel discussion and they must include critics as well as supporters of the film. Above all, they must include representatives of the Jewish community who clearly have the most authoritative and authentic understanding of the problem of anti-Semitism in Europe.”

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.

The Inconvenient Truth that Europe is Trying to Hide

After commissioning a documentary on European anti-Semitism, Arte, the Franco/German TV network that solicited the film has scandalously refused to air it. The acclaimed documentary has been censored because it dares to tell the truth - namely that there are shockingly high levels of anti-Semitism in Europe and that much of it is driven by rabid anti-Zionist and anti-Israel sentiment from the political Left and immigrant Muslim communities. These politically inconvenient truths must be confronted, not censored. The phony explanations from Arte's Program Director, Alain Le Diberder, for why they have refused to broadcast the film simply do not pass the "red face" test.

The sad reality is that most contemporary anti-Semitism seeks to masquerade as legitimate criticism of Israel. However, as the US State Department has identified, when that criticism is characterized by demonization and de-legitimization and the application of outrageous double standards, then the mask is ripped off and it is clear that it is the same old ugly, evil hatred of the Jewish people dressed up in a new costume.

This ugly racism and hatred is stalking much of Europe and it must be exposed, called out, and confronted. The Lantos Foundation commends the German newspaper Bild for broadcasting the film, "Chosen and Excluded- Jew Hatred in Europe", on its website for 24 hours but this is not enough.

The film must be screened and made available to the public and more importantly, the disturbing truths it reveals must be addressed by governments and civil society across the European continent.
 

https://www.algemeiner.com/2017/06/13/german-tabloid-bild-broadcasts-controversial-antisemitism-documentary-rejected-by-european-tv-station/

 

https://www.algemeiner.com/2017/06/15/jewish-human-rights-group-calls-on-european-parliament-to-screen-antisemitism-documentary-rejected-by-french-german-broadcaster/

 

Lantos Foundation Releases Open Letter to President Trump Urging Appointment of Key Envoys to Combat anti-Semitism and Advance International Religious Freedom

Lantos Foundation Releases Open Letter to President Trump Urging Appointment of Key Envoys to Combat anti-Semitism and Advance International Religious Freedom
Part of Solidarity Sabbath 2017 Initiatives.


Today, the Lantos Foundation released an open letter to President Trump, calling on his administration to act swiftly to appoint an Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. The letter was co-signed by former Ambassadors-at-Large Robert Seiple and David Saperstein and former Special Envoys Hannah Rosenthal and Ira Forman along with Lantos Foundation President and former Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Katrina Lantos Swett.

The letter notes the grave threats facing numerous faith communities around the world from Egypt and Pakistan to Burma and Iran to China and Russia. It underscores the importance of filling these leadership positions promptly in order to maximize American leadership internationally on behalf of persecuted communities and individuals.

The letter reads in part;

“The perilous state of religious freedom around the globe confirms the wisdom of America’s leaders in creating a legal framework for addressing these abuses and ensuring that our foreign policy remains focused on protecting and advancing these fundamental rights. The positions of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combatting Anti-Semitism are absolutely critical components of the legal framework.”

The open letter to the Trump administration and related outreach encouraging quick action to fill these posts is being undertaken as part of the Lantos Foundation’s annual Solidarity Sabbath which each May shines a spotlight on embattled faith communities.