January 30, 2017
Contact: Katrina Lantos Swett
President, Lantos Foundation
Phone: (603) 226-3636
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Immigration Ban Hits Leading ISIS Opponent and Parliamentarian
Vian Dakhil of Iraq scheduled to receive the Lantos Human Rights Prize in Washington, DC Next Week
Vian Dakhil mobilized the world against the ISIS-led assault on her people. The new Executive Order on immigration may prevent Dakhil from receiving the Lantos Human Rights Prize in person at the United States Capitol on February 8, 2017. This current member of the Iraqi Parliament and human rights champion has dedicated her life to fighting ISIS and saving her beleaguered people. She could be barred from entering the U.S. due to the Trump Administration’s decision to block the entry of all citizens from Iraq and six other predominantly Muslim countries.
Today, Lantos Foundation President, Katrina Lantos Swett, called on President Trump to reverse the order, which will have a devastating effect on the ability of human rights defenders and advocates for religious freedom to work with partners in the United States:
“My father, the late Tom Lantos, came to this country as a penniless immigrant and went on to become the only Holocaust survivor ever to serve in Congress. He understood better than most that it was of the utmost importance to uphold the United States’ proud tradition of protecting vulnerable victims of political, religious and ethnic persecution. He believed, and often said, “The veneer of civilization is paper thin; we are its guardians and we can never rest”. This moment demands that we step up as its guardians.
“When we deny entry to all citizens of Muslim majority countries, we disrespect our fundamental American values – indeed, the values that truly make America great. When we have to question whether a hero like Vian Dakhil, who has risked her life to fight the genocidal terrorists of ISIS, will be allowed into our country to receive a human rights prize in the shadow of the Capitol dome, we should all be deeply concerned. This ban undermines America’s security and our values by turning our backs on the friends and allies we desperately need by our side to defeat the butchers of ISIS. We are eroding our capacity to win this fight and dishonoring our nation’s legacy as the world’s foremost defender of human rights and justice.
The Lantos Foundation calls upon the Trump Administration to immediately rescind this ill-advised and counter-productive order. We must not close our borders to those who look to the United States as the shining city on the hill or to those, like Vian Dakhil, who are carrying the light in their own corner of the world.”
Ms. Dakhil, the only woman of Yazidi heritage serving in the Iraqi Parliament, became a top target on ISIS’ “Most Wanted” list for her work to expose ISIS ’genocidal campaign against the Yazidi community in Iraq. She has not only used her position in Parliament to inform the world of the atrocities being committed, but she has personally conducted ongoing rescue missions on behalf of thousands of women and girls who remain enslaved by the radical terror group in Iraq and Syria. In recognition of these incredible acts of physical bravery and moral courage, the Lantos Foundation selected Ms. Dakhil to receive the 2016 Lantos Human Rights Prize.
The Lantos Foundation established the Lantos Human Rights Prize in 2009 to honor and bring attention to heroes of the human rights movement. This annual award is presented to a recipient that best exemplifies the mission of the Lantos Foundation, 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. Previous Lantos Prize winners include His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Professor Elie Wiesel, Paul Rusesabagina, Chen Guangcheng, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Shimon Peres, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Rebiya Kadeer, and Irshad Manji.
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 Iraqi parliamentarian and ISIS’ “most wanted” woman, Vian Dakhil, at an award ceremony in Washington, D.C. on February 8, 2017 at the U.S. Capitol.
Dakhil will be given the 2016 award for her courageous defense of the Yazidi people as they faced mass genocide two years ago at the hands of the Islamic State and for her ongoing rescue mission on behalf of enslaved Yazidi women. Former recipients of the Lantos Prize include, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Professor Elie Wiesel, and Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Lantos Foundation President Katrina Lantos Swett said in a statement regarding the selection of Dakhil, “Two years ago, MP Vian Dakhil, through an eloquent speech before the Iraqi parliament, single-handedly moved the governments of Iraq and the United States to intervene on behalf of the Yazidi people. As a result of her impassioned plea, thousands of lives were saved. However, her efforts did not stop there. She has done more than almost anyone else to try to free women and children who have been enslaved and brutalized by ISIS. In addition to using her membership in parliament to advocate on behalf of the Yazidi people, Dakhil has also led dangerous rescue missions – one of which almost took her life. Vian Dakhil is truly a hero and savior, and we are tremendously excited to present her with this award.”
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.
Katrina Lantos Swett Statement: "Professor Wiesel was a dear friend to the Lantos family and the Lantos Foundation and his passing is an inestimable loss to us all. He was indeed the moral conscience of the world and the Lantos Foundation was honored to have presented him with the Lantos Prize in 2010.
Elie had remarked once that he was one of those who did not sleep well and that it was his duty to make sure the world also did not sleep too well but rather was kept in remembrance of the evil that could overtake us if we permitted our humanity and our moral conscience to slumber. In this conviction he was truly a "brother" to my late father Congressman Tom Lantos, another Hungarian Holocaust survivor and his close friend. In a very similar vein my father had said " The veneer of civilization is paper thin, we are its guardians and we can never rest".
Through his extraordinary writing, speaking and advocacy, Elie Wiesel reached deep into the heart of an often callous and casual world with a quiet insistence that we remember and that we act. Mingled with our sorrow at his passing is a profound gratitude for the life of this great man. Our world will not be the same without him - we promise him that we will "never rest"."
NH residents remember holocaust survivor, author and activist Elie Wiesel's legacy By: Jennifer Currier, NH1.com
"Elie Wiesel was one of those beacons of light to us that helps us to remember that our job is important and we need to keep ever-vigilant in doing the things that we do.” - Denise Perron, Lantos Foundation Executive Director
By Katrina Lantos-Swett - - Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Heretic. Rabble-rouser. Criminal. These words have been used and abused to describe many remarkable figures throughout history. Voltaire, when he used his unparalleled pen to demand that the clerical hierarchy of his day truly evaluate itself. Martin Luther, when he set out to reform a faith that he had dedicated his life to. And Martin Luther King Jr., when he issued a prophetic call to his country to fully respect the rights of all of its citizens.
Next month, the Lantos Foundation will proudly honor three courageous women of Muslim heritage who have chosen to make history, joining the ranks of those whom time has vindicated as righteous and brave agents of change. Rebiya Kadeer, Irshad Manji and Ayaan Hirsi Ali are all cut from the same cloth as these towering figures of an earlier time. They, too, have been vilified, but we strongly believe these women will go down in history as bold leaders, audacious reformers and righteous rebels. As has been widely observed, well-behaved women seldom make history.
"Since July 10, Chinese authorities have been detaining human rights lawyers and activists in unprecedented numbers. An estimated 250 have been taken into custody. Police and thugs are grabbing people from their homes and offices, and even from restaurants, without warning or rationale. They are being interrogated, threatened and accused of fabricated crimes. Many are being held without access to family, friends, legal representation, or any other semblance of due process under the law."
"Many years ago Tom and I took our two young daughters on a trip to Prague where, in the old Jewish Quarter, we learned of the Nazi plans to establish a “Museum of an Extinct Race.” I remember feeling the cold sense of dread and horror that one experiences in the face of evil. I clutched my two little girls’ hands a bit tighter that day, but not in fear, rather in determination!
Like you, President Peres, we were determined to answer this evil with good. You have answered it in countless ways, most importantly as one of the fathers of the unprecedented miracle that is modern day Israel and by your heroic defense of her highest aspirations and deepest values.
Through our work on behalf of human rights Tom and I gave our answer, but as you know Tom’s proudest rebuke to those who sought to wipe us off the face of the earth was his family. Our two wonderful daughters shared a vision. They were determined to rebuild the family that had been taken from us and to rekindle a light for the millions of murdered children. And they have kindled many beautiful lights who are now the light of my life. Surrounding me are my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. We reaffirm today and forever that like Abraham of old we choose goodness over evil, light over darkness, and we choose life!"