Press Release

Lantos Foundation Announces 2016 Solidarity Sabbath - Spotlight Focused on China

Concord, NH - The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice announced today the launch of the 2016 Solidarity Sabbath, which focuses on the Chinese government’s harsh repression of freedom of religion, conscience, and belief. They are calling on individuals and faith communities around the world to devote the weekend of May 20-22, 2016 to highlight the strength and bravery of Chinese citizens who courageously live out their faith despite threats of harassment, imprisonment, and torture.

“While the Chinese government officially sanctions five religions, it does so with strict Communist Party oversight. Individuals and faith communities who follow their consciences outside the control of the Chinese Communist Party risk imprisonment, torture, or worse,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation. “Without pressure from the global community and the political leadership of free nations, hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens will continue to be denied the most fundamental of human rights. Furthermore, religious freedom, tolerance, and respect are vital for the economic and social well-being of nations and their people.”

Individuals are encouraged to visit SolidaritySabbath.org to learn more about the absence of religious freedom in China. There are three ways they can participate: (1) encourage their respective faith communities to focus on the lack of religious freedom in China during the weekend of May 20-22, (2) sign the Solidarity Sabbath petition urging governments to put greater pressure on the Chinese government, and (3) reach out to one of the 2016 Solidarity Sabbath partner organizations to support their work on behalf of people in China. These partners include China Aid, Initiatives for China, the International Campaign for Tibet, the Chen Guangcheng Foundation, All Girls Allowed, and the Uyghur Human Rights Project.

The Solidarity Sabbath is an annual initiative of the Lantos Foundation that supports the fundamental human right of freedom of religion, conscience, and belief. During the inaugural Solidarity Sabbath in 2015, leaders across Europe and North America joined together to combat the spread of anti-Semitism. The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice is a non-profit focused on protecting fundamental human rights, promoting the rule of law, encouraging corporate responsibility with respect to human rights, and advancing the legacy and work of the late Congressman Tom Lantos.

PRESS RELEASE - Katrina Lantos Swett & Other Prominent Religious Freedom Advocates Offer to take Saudi Lashings in Raif Badawi's Place

Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation, has joined with other prominent religious freedom advocates in calling on Saudi Arabia to cancel the sentence of 1,000 lashes that has been imposed on liberal blogger Raif Badawi. The advocates are offering to each take 100 of the lashes to which Badawi has been sentenced if the Saudi government refuses to cancel his punishment. The signatories of the letter include: Professor Robert George of Princeton University, Mary Ann Glendon, former Ambassador to the Holy See; Professor Daniel Mark of Villanova University; Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy; Eric Schwartz, Dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota; and Hannah Rosenthal, CEO of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation.

In a letter sent today to the Saudi embassy they cite the “grave injustice” of his sentence and write, “We would rather share in his victimization than stand by and watch him being cruelly tortured.” 

The Lantos Foundation and these individuals join a powerful chorus of voices including leading US Senators, Amnesty International, the US State Department, and others in condemning Saudi Arabia’s action in this case as barbaric.

Read the Letter Here

Israeli President Shimon Peres to Be Named 2014 Lantos Prize Laureate

June 2014, WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice announced today that the 2014 Lantos Human Rights Prize will be awarded to Shimon Peres, President of the State of Israel. President Peres will receive the award for his unwavering dedication to the profound values of democracy and human rights that form the foundation of the State of Israel, as well as his pursuit of peace, justice and reconciliation in the Middle East. Former recipients of the Lantos Prize include former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Professor Elie Wiesel, Paul Rusesabagina, and Chen Guangcheng. The award ceremony will take in place in Washington, DC on June 26, 2014. It will be open to press and coverage is invited.

“The nominating committee’s decision to honor President Peres with this award was inspired by Shimon Peres’ over 60 years of extraordinary leadership as a builder of his nation, as a global statesman and as a tireless and inspired advocate for peace and justice in the Middle East”, said Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice. “President Peres stands out as a leader whose passion  for his country and his people is equaled by his commitment to the cause of peace for all people of the region.”

Over the course of his career, President Peres has received numerous honors for his efforts in the Middle East, and the Lantos Human Rights Prize further recognizes his dedication to democracy and civil liberty. Peres was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. He later went on to establish the Peres Center for Peace. Despite enormous tensions and challenges in the Middle East, Peres has been an eloquent advocate for the fundamental human rights of all peoples. 

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 commemorate 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.

Additional details about the award ceremony honoring President Shimon Peres will be announced soon. For information call the Lantos Foundation at 603-226-3636. Press inquiries should be directed to 202.265.3000. 

MEDIA ADVISORY - Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Receive 2013 Lantos Prize

MEDIA ADVISORY
 
MEDIA CONTACT:
Kate Ray, Rabinowitz Communications, kate@rabinowitz.com, (202) 265-3000, (414) 614-3557
 
 
Former Secretary of State
Hillary Rodham Clinton to Receive 2013 Lantos Prize
 
Dec. 6 ceremony to take place in Cannon Caucus Room
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice will award the 2013 Lantos Human Rights Prize, its highest honor, to Hillary Rodham Clinton in an award ceremony December 6, 2013, at 11:00 am in the Cannon Caucus Room of the Cannon Office Building of the US House of Representatives in Washington.  The event is open to press and coverage is invited.

The Former Secretary of State will receive the award for her tireless efforts to promote human rights for women around the world and her groundbreaking work on promoting human rights through Internet freedom.  Former recipients of the Lantos Prize include the Dalai Lama, Elie Wiesel, Paul Rusesabagina and Chen Guangcheng.

“Hillary Rodham Clinton has gained global recognition for her leadership in so many critical arenas, but we are particularly proud to recognize the enormous contributions she has made to human rights causes,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation. “Her proclamation that ‘women’s rights are human rights’ changed the way the world thinks about human rights and opened doors for women in a way that only Hillary Clinton could. Furthermore, Secretary Clinton’s  pioneering work on Internet Freedom has  focused worldwide attention on the urgent need to “tear down the walls” of closed societies that seek to imprison their citizens behind internet firewalls that have become the iron curtains of this “virtual” century, She has also provided a powerful intellectual framework for advancing this central human right of our time.”

In nearly four decades of public service, Hillary Rodham Clinton has served as an advocate, attorney, First Lady, United States Senator and most recently as Secretary of State of the United States. Though she has championed a number of issues ranging from education to health care, Secretary Clinton is revered in the human rights community for her 1995 Beijing speech where she boldly stood up for women’s rights and became a true global champion for those issues. She also broke new ground in 2010 when she declared that governments that fail to allow for Internet freedoms are not only attempting to crush dissent, but to deny human rights.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, computer scientist and “father of the Internet” Vinton Cerf (by video) and Lantos Foundation president Katrina Lantos Swett will also speak.
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 commemorate 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. Former recipients of the Lantos Prize include His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, Rwandan humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina, and Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng.

WHO:  Hillary Rodham Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Vinton Cerf, Katrina Lantos Swett
WHAT:  The Lantos Foundation 2013 Lantos Prize Laureate Award Ceremony
WHEN:  Friday, December 6, 2013, 11:00 am
WHERE:  Cannon Caucus Room in the Cannon House Office Building, Washington
 
For more information, please call 603-226-3636. Press who wish to cover the ceremony should contact Kate Ray at kate@rabinowitz.com or 202-265-3000.The event will be live streamed at www.lantosfoundation.org.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton To Be Named 2013 Lantos Prize Laureate

November 7, 2013, WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice today announced that it will award the 2013 Lantos Human Rights Prize, its highest honor, to Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Former Secretary of State will receive the award for her tireless efforts to promote human rights for women around the world and her groundbreaking work on promoting human rights through Internet freedom.  Former recipients of the Lantos Prize include the Dalai Lama, Elie Wiesel, Paul Rusesabagina and Chen Guangcheng. The award ceremony will take in Washington, DC on December 6, 2013. It will be open to press and coverage is invited. 

“Hillary Rodham Clinton has gained global recognition for her leadership in so many critical arenas, but we are particularly proud to recognize the enormous contributions she has made to human rights causes,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation. “Her proclamation that ‘women’s rights are human rights’ changed the way the world thinks about human rights and opened doors for women in a way that only Hillary Clinton could. Furthermore, Secretary Clinton’s  pioneering work on Internet Freedom has  focused worldwide attention on the urgent need to “tear down the walls” of closed societies that seek to imprison their citizens behind internet firewalls that have become the iron curtains of this “virtual” century, She has also provided a powerful intellectual framework for advancing this central human right of our time.”

In nearly four decades of public service, Hillary Rodham Clinton has served as an advocate, attorney, First Lady, United States Senator and most recently as Secretary of State of the United States. Though she has championed a number of issues ranging from education to health care, Secretary Clinton is revered in the human rights community for her 1995 Beijing speech where she boldly stood up for women’s rights and became a true global champion for those issues. She also broke new ground in 2010 when she declared that governments that fail to allow for Internet freedoms are not only attempting to crush dissent, but to deny human rights.

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 commemorate 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. Former recipients of the Lantos Prize include His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, Rwandan humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina, and Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng.

Additional details about the award ceremony honoring Secretary Clinton will be announced soon. For information call the Lantos Foundation at 603-226-3636.

Katrina Lantos Swett Urges President Obama to Sign Magnitsky Act After Affirmative Senate Vote Today

The Lantos Foundation applauds the passage today in the US Senate of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act. The bill imposes a variety of sanctions on those who are known to have participated in the detention, abuse and death of Sergei Magnitsky– a brave young lawyer who risked his life to expose widespread corruption and abuse by Russian officials. Individuals implicated in these crimes against Sergei Magnitsky would be denied visas and are subject to having their assets in the United States frozen. This vital legislation sends the clear message to tyrants and torturers around the world that America is determined to stand up for human rights and the rule of law. President of the Lantos Foundation Katrina Lantos Swett commented; “We urge President Obama to sign this important legislation and we hope it will become a template for similar sanctions to be imposed on gross violators of human rights globally.”

Lantos Foundation to Honor Chinese Activist Chen Guangcheng with Annual Human Rights Prize

WASHINGTON – Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese legal activist, will be honored by the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice as the 2012 recipient of the Lantos Human Rights Prize, the organization’s highest honor, for his tireless work promoting human rights and the rule of law in China. The award ceremony will take place in Washington, D.C. in January 2013.

“I am humbled to receive this important honor that is named after Tom Lantos, a legendary human rights hero,” said Chen Guangcheng. “I have dedicated my life to being a voice for the millions of my fellow countrymen standing up for their basic human rights. By raising the profile of this struggle, the Lantos Foundation brings the attention of the world where it is needed most.”

“Chen Guangcheng embodies the fight for human rights in China on so many different fronts – environmentalism, property rights, justice for those with disabilities, and women’s rights,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation. “Chen is the ultimate example of a courageous David facing down the Goliath of the Chinese state armed only with the smooth stones of justice and truth. This self-taught lawyer came from humble beginnings and took on the fights that affected his family, then his community, and finally the whole of China. Chen and his family have paid, and continue to pay, a high price for his bravery and his resolve. I know my father would have been proud to honor this important figure in China’s continuing fight for human rights and justice.”

In April 2012, Chen, a blind self-taught lawyer, dramatically escaped house arrest in China and fled to the U.S. Embassy. He and his immediate family left China and currently reside in New York City where he is a Scholar in Residence at NYU. He is best known for a 2005 class action lawsuit against officials of the Shandong Province for abuses related to enforcement of China’s one-child policy. The lawsuit exposed official abuse of thousands of people who were subjected to late-term forced abortion, mandatory sterilization, and late-night beatings. Chen also worked to stop environmental damage and end land-use policies that illegally enriched officials. In 2005, he was placed under house arrest for seven months, was disappeared for three months, then arrested and sentenced to jail for four years and three months. In September of 2010 he was released from prison but continued to be illegally detained at home, during which time he suffered inhumane and cruel treatment, until his escape earlier this year.

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 commemorate 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. Former recipients of the Lantos Prize include His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel and Rwandan humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina.

Additional information about the time and location of the awards ceremony honoring Chen Guangcheng will be announced closer to the event.

LANTOS SWETT STATEMENT ON INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL

CONCORD, NH – October 11th, 2012 marks the first annual International Day of the Girl, which was established by a United Nations Resolution in December 2011. The resolution stated that the purpose of the day was “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.”

Lantos Foundation President Katrina Lantos Swett issued the following statement in recognition of this important milestone:

“Today we celebrate the very first International Day of the Girl, which was established to promote gender equality and better opportunities for girls everywhere.

While women in many countries have made great strides and become incredible role models for young girls, there are still too many inequalities in the world. Just this week the international community collectively gasped when a 14 year old girl’s education rights activist, Malala Yousafzai, was brutally targeted and attacked by extremists in Pakistan. There continue to be untold numbers of reports of sex trafficking, gendercide, and mutilation in all corners of the world. We must all work together to end this rash of violence against girls and provide them the tools they need to flourish and succeed.”

Lantos Foundation statement on the death of Oswaldo Paya

The Lantos Foundation joins countless others in mourning the tragic death of Oswaldo Paya, one of Cuba’s foremost human rights leaders. Paya, a devout Roman Catholic, drew strength from his faith as he relentlessly pressed for democratic change in his homeland for over three decades. He was one of the chief organizers of the Varela Project, a peaceful grass roots petition drive that was the single largest challenge to the repressive decades long rule of Fidel Castro. He was also an original founder of the Christian Liberation Movement which emphasized non-violent civic action. Congressman Lantos was a great admirer of Oswaldo Paya and considered him to be one of the true heroes of democracy in the Western hemisphere.

Questions have been raised about the death of Paya in a car accident in La Gavina, near the eastern city of Bayamo. There are allegations that his car may have been pushed off the road and there have been numerous calls for an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.

Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation said;

“The Lantos Foundation concurs with those who have asked that there be a free and independent accounting of the events that led to the untimely death of this great man. The world is poorer today for the loss of a man of such integrity, courage, and faith but no doubt heaven has been made richer by the arrival of Oswaldo Paya. May his work for a free, democratic and peaceful Cuba continue with renewed strength in honor of his memory”.

Lantos Foundation Statement on Discrimination by Turkish Airlines

The recently announced partnership between the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice and the Roosevelt Institute to re-establish the FDR International Disability Rights Award (FDRIDRA) is intended to raise awareness of the needs and rights of persons with disabilities. The recent experience of FDRIDRA Advisory Board Member Kersen DeJong onboard Turkish Airlines tangibly demonstrates the vital need for greater support and understanding this Award is meant to encourage.

When Mr. DeJong boarded a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to Amsterdam this past week, he was refused a seat that would accommodate his disability: two artificial legs. After being denied both bulkhead seating and an aisle seat, he was forced to separate his artificial legs from his upper body and drag himself to his seat with his hands. His artificial limbs were then stored by airline staff in an overhead compartment away from his assigned seat. All of this occurred while the flight crew and passengers looked on. At the end of the flight, Dutch customs officers had to assist him in literally putting himself back together before he could leave the airport.

“This incident is a shocking reminder of the challenges people with disabilities face every day. Mr. DeJong is a man of stature and well informed about disability laws, including laws governing public transportation and persons with disabilities. While he handled this deplorable incident with strength and determination, one shudders to think how a less informed and experienced person with a disability would be able to endure such a mortifying experience,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation. “We call on Turkish Airlines to apologize to Mr. DeJong and work to establish policies and practices that accommodate all of their travelers comfortably and compassionately.”

The FDR International Disability Award encourages and recognizes countries that make meaningful progress in upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The UN Convention originated in 2007 and currently has 153 signatories and has been ratified by 112 countries.

Though the United States signed the Convention in 2009, the United States Senate has not yet ratified it. On May 17th, just one week before Mr. DeJong’s appalling experience on Turkish Airlines, President Obama sent the treaty to the Senate where it currently awaits approval. If you are as outraged as we are about Mr. DeJong’s treatment, we encourage you to contact your Senators and urge them to support ratification of the UN Convention for Persons with Disabilities immediately.