April 30, 2019
For Immediate Release
Contact: Denise L. Perron
Lantos Foundation Launches 2019 Solidarity Sabbath
31 Religious Prisoners of Conscience to be Profiled
CONCORD, NH – The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice will launch its 2019 Solidarity Sabbath Project on May 1st focusing on Prisoners of Conscience (PoCs) held for their religious beliefs. Each day of May, our social media feeds will feature a prisoner currently being held across a wide array of nations and from many different religious beliefs and backgrounds. The intent is to not only provide much needed attention to the prisoners’ unjust plight, but to expose and shame the authoritarian governments that trample on the fundamental right of religious freedom.
“Prisoners of conscience often say that their darkest fear is that they will be forgotten. We want to use our 2019 Solidarity Sabbath to not only reassure them that we will never forget them, but to provide renewed hope as we raise their profile, tell their story, and continue their fight for justice,” said Lantos Foundation President Katrina Lantos Swett. “Many of those we will profile have been imprisoned for nothing more than sharing their faith, or for questioning the imposed state orthodoxy. In a world that suffers from so much hatred and violence stemming from religious intolerance, it is vital to recognize that religious liberty is a central value of a healthy, rights-based society. Robust protection for freedom of religion, conscience and belief is a distinguishing characteristic of stable societies, and it helps ensure religious tolerance and pluralism. We must continue to expose those that deny these freedoms, and never forgot those that suffer at their hands.”
In addition to sharing the stories of these 31 Religious Prisoners of Conscience, the Lantos Foundation plans to work with the Defending Freedoms Project of the Congressional Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s (USCIRF) Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project to ensure that all highlighted PoCs are adopted by Members of Congress and/or USCIRF Commissioners. We hope that this additional exposure during Solidarity Sabbath will ensure that more PoCs are “adopted” by these vital programs, giving more voice to their stories and increasing the pressure for them to be released.
About the Solidarity Sabbath:
Each year in the month of May, the Lantos Foundation observes Solidarity Sabbath in which we organize to draw attention to embattled faith communities and to encourage our leaders to act boldly on their behalf. The Solidarity Sabbath reminds us of the powerful human rights advocacy of the late Congressman Tom Lantos - the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to Congress. Congressman Lantos often said, “The veneer of civilization is paper thin. We are its guardians, and we can never rest”.
Additional information on the Defending Freedoms Project can be found here: https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/defending-freedom-project
Additional information on the Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project can be found here: