Remarks by Mrs. Annette Lantos; Lantos Prize Ceremony 2014

"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!"

Katrina Lantos Swett Remarks - UN Hungarian Holocaust Commemoration

Prepared remarks of Katrina Lantos Swett at UN Hungarian Holocaust Commemoration, January 23, 2014

"Good Evening, Dear Friends.

As has already been noted by the earlier speakers, we meet tonight with hearts that are both heavy and full - heavy over the sudden and serious illness of our friend Gyorgy Vamos who has been in so many ways the moving force behind this exhibit and full because we gather today to remember a dark time in history and to commemorate and honor the hundreds of thousands of Jews who lost their lives in the tragedy of the Hungarian Holocaust. As you know my own family is included in the numbers of those who became victims, and my own dear mother and father were saved only because of the selfless heroism of one of the most extraordinary diplomats and humanitarians of the 20th century- Raoul Wallenberg. A monument to Wallenberg stands just a stone’s throw away from where we are, across the street from the UN, and perhaps the most notable part of the Memorial is the bronze suitcase, left on the ground to symbolize the unfinished work of Raoul who as we all know was kidnapped and imprisoned by the Soviets when they came to Budapest. I think that image of the suitcase left behind as he was taken is an important symbol and reminder for us here today of our own unfinished business.

This powerful exhibit tells an unforgettable story which we are honor bound to remember and bear witness to. But exhibits such as these have another, even more important purpose. In that sense coming here is quite different from going to admire a Matisse at the Met. We are here tonight not only to remember and to learn but even more importantly to prepare and to arm ourselves to face the very real dangers of the present moment. And as far as anti-Semitism in Europe is concerned, its alarming resurgence in recent years reminds us all of the truth of William Faulkner’s words, “The past is never dead, it’s not even past.”

In just the last few days the dark past has re-emerged in Hungary in a disturbing and outrageous way. In 1941, long before the German occupation of Hungary in 1944, nearly 20,000 Jews were deported by the Hungarian authorities to German occupied Ukraine where they were murdered en masse in the infamous Kamianets-Podilskyi massacre. This was the first mass atrocity directed at Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust. And yet, a few days ago, the director of a government funded Historical Institute described this unforgivable deportation as simply a “local police action against illegal aliens.” It is hard to properly express my outrage at this appalling attempt to rewrite history and to attempt to evade the Hungarian government’s deep moral complicity in the massacre of these innocent people - the vast majority of them native-born Hungarians. Such an effort to evade, avoid, whitewash and desecrate history is utterly unacceptable and cannot be tolerated by any nation that hopes to command the respect of the world community.

I urge the leadership of the Hungarian government to speak out forcefully against these reprehensible statements and to take appropriate steps to rectify this situation. Hungary is too proud and too decent of a nation to let such shameful remarks stand unrebuked by those at the highest level of government.

When I first learned of these events, I thought immediately of my dear father, Tom Lantos, who was truly fearless when it came to confronting those who would seek to once again fan the flames of bigotry and hatred in Hungary. I know if he were still alive, he would take to the floor of his beloved Congress to denounce these comments and to call upon the government of Hungary to stand proudly and unshakably for the values of human rights, tolerance, democracy and decency. There are many in Hungary who do just that, and I have come to know many of them both as leaders I admire and even more as friends. Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi and State Secretary Zsolt Nemeth are two such individuals; I have been moved to witness their eloquent defense of persecuted minorities, and I’ve been touched by their courageous willingness to honestly face Hungarian history – even its darkest chapters. They do much to bring honor to their country, and I know they represent the millions of decent Hungarians who reject the old prejudices of the past.

I spoke a moment ago about Raoul Wallenberg’s suitcase, now sitting in bronze outside this great Parliament of Man as a reminder of his unfinished work.

His suitcase is waiting there for me.  It is waiting there for you. It is now up to us to pick up that suitcase and carry his work forward for as long as we are able in the fight for human rights and justice for all of humanity. That is the work of this exhibit, and we must make it our work as well.

Thank you."

Chen Guangcheng's Remarks at the 2012 Tom Lantos Human Rights Prize Ceremony

"Hello. I am truly honored to be standing here today, as the recipient of this highest honor in the name of the great human rights defender, Congressman Tom Lantos. Such an honor brings me much encouragement and fills me with emotion. Although this award is being given to me, Chen Guangcheng, I feel that it is a strong validation of everyone working to defend human rights, social justice, and universal values.

Both Congressman Lantos and I share the experience of escaping evil. In June of last year when I heard that I was being given this award, I felt a profound resonance in my heart with Mr. Lantos. The shared experience in evil's lair made us both understand the necessity of taking immediate action in the face of wrongdoing. Who can know how many seekers of justice and human rights will suffer persecution, destruction, or even death at the hands of dictators if we are idle even for just one moment. We must not only remember the atrocities of the fascists, but also recognize that today authoritarianism is firmly entrenched, and that the barbarism of the authoritarian system is the greatest threat to civilized societies. Employing every method available, authoritarian governments will do their utmost to stop the mouths and bind the spirits of good-willed people.

We must be clear: dictatorships are inherently in opposition to democracy and freedom. They are opposed to constitutionalism and the rule of law, and will monopolize all power for their own benefit. They can ravage you at will; if you resist, they will make you a criminal. If you protest, they will make you their enemy. This system starkly and inherently contradicts democratic institutions. If you approach them with dialogue and reason in the hope that they will give up some of their authoritarian power, you will in effect become an accomplice to their work.

Despite my misfortunes, I have been lucky. For many years I have suffered inhumane persecution by the Party authorities; but I have also been blessed with the attention, care and kindness from people around the world. Last May, with the help of so many individuals, I was able to come to the US with my family. We have been warmly welcomed and cared for by the American people, and I would like to express my deepest thanks to all of you for your concern and support. I will remember this always. I would also like to thank the many brave friends who came from far and near to make their way to my village, Dongshigu. Your fearlessness is the crystallization of human conscience. I cannot thank each of you individually in your presence, but I will nonetheless be eternally grateful to you.

Today, I and my immediate family are free in body; but in mind we cannot be free, because so many of my compatriots - including many family members - are still living under the evils of the authoritarian system. For instance, local party authorities are making my nephew pay the price for my escape. At this time he has already been sent to the very jail where I spent so many years, and our family and lawyers have not been allowed to see him. Many others share similar experiences. There is the Beijing lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who is still in prison in Xinjiang, in northwest China. Even during his probation he was disappeared and tortured. Unimaginably, on the day his probation was up, he was put back in prison and is not allowed regular family visits. And there is the journalist Qi Chonghuai who was jailed for his outspokenness. Just when he had almost completed his prison term, his sentence was extended, and his family continues to live under conditions of extreme duress, threats and terror. Liu Xiaobo's wife, Liu Xia, has been living under house arrest for more than two years. The Mongolian writer Ha Da served 17 years in prison. Two years ago his term was finished, but he is still being illegally detained. And of course there are countless petitioners from all over the country who are detained, beaten, or held in black jails, suffering wrongdoing, injury, and trumped up charges. These are not isolated cases of injustice, but represent a reality in China today: legal protection and justice do not exist or are only very rarely available for most citizens.

Human rights reform is inseparable from political reform. However, under the leadership of the party, simply speaking about human rights is no easy task; and of course, defending human rights is even more difficult. But social progress does not come from those in power, whether or not they wish it to be the case. China will see a transformation. How do we encourage this transformation?

I believe the most important thing is to shift our attention from the leadership to the people. To support their activities in moving towards a society that respects human rights, the people need to feel encouraged. That is why international attention is so important, especially because of the following three points. First, international concern validates the often difficult work of social justice. Second, if the media illuminates the activities of the so-called "black hands" who punish those who seek justice, their actions are likely to be less extreme. Third, media reports disseminate information that can lead to an awakening of the populace, and cause more and more people to demand their rights and demand protection of their rights under the law.

That is why I am happy to take this opportunity to mention some Chinese human rights workers. In the past few years there have been countless human rights warriors working for social justice who have dared to say "no" in the face of evil. There are some you will have heard of, like Ai Weiwei, Liu Xiaobo, and Hu Jiao, and many others you may not be familiar with, such as Liu Ping, Zhu Chengzhi, Chen Xi, Liu Guohui, and Li Bifeng. These people, as well as innumerable netizens, have all suffered varying levels of unceasing oppression and persecution for their actions in the cause of righteousness.

A few days ago, petitioners Li Guohui and Wei Lan as well as six other women from my home town who had traveled to Beijing were kidnapped and beaten by thugs working for the Shandong provincial office in Beijing. One of them, Qin Yuling was severely beaten around the face, and others sustained varying levels of injury. Last Friday, a student from Hainan, Dong Zhengzheng went to see my aged mother who was just coming back from the hospital. Just as she was about to leave, her father called her on the phone to tell her that the police had arrived at his house. He said she must go immediately to the public security, otherwise her student status would be jeopardized. Recently, many friends and neighbors who I have been in touch with by phone have been taken into custody by the authorities for questioning. They have been threatened, and made to describe what our conversations have been about. Even foreign journalists are not immune. A Reuter's journalist who has interviewed me was contacted by the foreign ministry and threatened. They told the reporter that Chen Guangcheng is an American spy. We cannot keep silent in the face of these phenomena. It is my sincere hope that in mentioning these people you will come to know them and understand their circumstances, and try to help them in their times of trouble.

As for the United States government, I urge you to continue unwaveringly from your basic principles of democracy, human rights, and freedom of speech. You must not give in an inch or offer the smallest compromise when it comes to these basic principles. Even though the United States now sees a softening of its economy, and it is clearly difficult to shift attention away from issues of finance and economy, remember that placing undue value on material life will cause a deficit in spiritual life. You must establish a long-term plan for human rights, and not compromise on it, ever. What's more, the American people have a responsibility in human rights, because you are able to force the government to live up to its promises. You have freedom of speech and the right to fair elections: you should use these rights to encourage your government to fulfill its responsibilities. If you find it difficult to choose a candidate based solely on economic policies, you can vote according to their human rights record. If a politician cares about human rights, it's likely he or she will care about your well-being. Will a government that cares only about money govern responsibly? Even though the Chinese government will do anything to persecute those who stand up for human rights, fortunately, history shows clearly and unfailingly that aggression and violence cannot destroy the truth, and cannot eliminate what is good and kind in human nature. Moreover, as a Chinese saying describes, "If you carry the hearts and minds of the people, you will carry all below heaven." The government should take note of this: there has never been a dynasty that was able to achieve longevity through forceful oppression. In China in the last few years there have been more than 200,000 protests every year, covering every issue imaginable. More and more people are overcoming their fear to take action. The waves of citizens who have traveled to my village is the best example.

I sincerely hope that everyone - petitioners, human rights workers, civil rights groups, national governments, and especially the United States government - will come together to encourage progress in human rights. There should be no compromise, even if there are large business interests at stake - dignity, freedom and justice are more important. In 2011, the actor Christian Bale went to Dongshigu Village to find me. We were not able to see each other, and he knew he might hurt his own career, but he went anyway. He earned the respect of the Chinese people and people around the world not just as celebrity but a truly decent human being. An individual, an organization, a government, are all the same: as long as you are doing the right thing, you will be respected and validated by the people, and be enriched in both tangible and intangible ways. In many ways it is the intangible riches that are the hardest to come by.

In this key moment of transformation in China, international pressure is extremely important. However, the Chinese sons and daughters back home need to understand that although others can help us, we need to be the main actors in this effort. Democracy, freedom, and justice don't just happen: we must strive for them through action. Last year Myanmar lifted the ban on political parties, and last Friday it abolished media censorship. What the people in Myanmar do, we can do, too. Each of us has something to contribute. As long as we work together as one to overcome fear, we will unquestionably be able to free the nation from bondage. We need to bring to an end this period of history during which the Communist authority maintains a monopoly on power and enslaves the people through a leadership of thieves, and establish a truly civil society. Anything is possible in this world. The strength and potential of all of us are boundless. Please believe in yourselves. Let's work together to make this world a better place!

Thank you!"

Remarks by Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett; Lantos Prize Event 2011

Good Morning, I am Katrina Lantos Swett and along with my sister Annette and my mother Annette, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the 2011 Lantos Human Rights Prize award ceremony. Many years ago when I was a very young, newly minted lawyer working on Capitol Hill for then Senator Joe Biden, I was being romantically pursued by another Hill staffer. This young man, who shall remain nameless, had the most thought provoking pick-up line that I was ever on the receiving end of. And although I never actually went out on a date with him, I also never forgot his question. It was the following:

“If tonight as you prepare to go to bed, the light in your room grows brighter and brighter and you find yourself miraculously in the presence of God and He tells you, I will answer any single question for you; what would you ask? I thought long and hard about how I would use such a precious opportunity. I didn’t want to ask a question that I probably already knew the answer to such as what is the greatest thing in life? Love! Or how can we achieve peace and reconciliation? Forgiveness and mutual understanding.

In the end I decided I would ask God a very personal question because I believe that to the extent he works in this world, it is most often through us. And so the question I determined I would ask was: “What will be the greatest moral challenge I will face in my life and will I be equal to it? Will I meet it in a way that makes you proud?” Our honoree this year, Mr. Paul Rusesabagina, has answered that question and has done so resoundingly in the affirmative.

World renowned author, Nobel Laureate and last year’s recipient of the Lantos Prize, Professor Elie Wiesel has written that “Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion or political views, that place must, at that moment, become the center of the universe” Seventeen years ago when Rwanda desperately needed to be the center of the universe the world instead turned away. As a genocidal assault was unleashed on the Tutsi people, the community of nations, to their everlasting shame, stood by and did nothing and as a consequence nearly a million Rwandans were massacred in just 100 days. But while the mighty and powerful found reasons and excuses to turn away, Paul Rusesabagina, a self-described “ordinary man” did not turn away. Paul’s brave and profoundly decent actions as the manager of the Hotel Des Milles Collines, helped save the lives of over 1,200 hundred Tutsis and moderate Hutus who had taken refuge in his hotel.

What is remarkable about Paul Rusesabagina’s achievement is that it was not the result of a grandiose plan to thwart the evil that was raging outside the gates of his hotel. No not at all. Paul would be the first to say that minute to minute – day to day- making it up as he went along, he was simply determined to do one more thing to try and save lives for one more day. Where did he find the strength and humanity to do this-to live out the idea that he was indeed his brothers’ and sisters’ keepers? I don’t know, but I do know that we can perhaps hope to find similar strength and humanity from following his example.

Paul’s story is one that particularly resonates with my family because it reminds us of the heroic rescue mission of the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust, including my father Tom Lantos. In 2012 we will celebrate the centennial of Raoul Wallenberg’s birth and it is fitting indeed that Paul has previously been awarded the Wallenberg medal for his outstanding humanitarian actions on behalf of the defenseless.

I spoke earlier of wanting to inquire of God what might be the great moral test of my life. Paul met his great test and he would have been more than justified in seeking a life of quiet and peace in which he could be recognized for his good works but also left alone to enjoy the simple ordinary pleasures of his family and friends. Perhaps it is not surprising that Paul instead chose the path less travelled and more fraught with risk. While recognizing the significant progress that has been made in Rwanda under President Kagame, Paul has nonetheless dared to speak out against the serious challenges to democracy and human rights that exist in Rwanda today. His call for a peace and reconciliation process is the right prescription for a country that still faces deep rooted tensions that, if not addressed could pose a serious risk to the people of this region who have already suffered so much. Sadly, Paul’s willingness to publicly confront these issues has made him the target of bitter attacks on his character and motives. Unfortunately these attacks appear to be consistent with a disturbing pattern of censorship, intimidation and even violence that has been directed against those who have dared voice concerns about the government of Rwanda. This pattern is not unique to Rwanda. As Mark Twain observed, history may not repeat itself but it often rhymes. Raoul Wallenberg was arrested and sent to the Soviet Gulag for his heroic deeds during the Holocaust, Martin Luther King Jr. who was hailed in America when he became the youngest Nobel Laureate, became the subject of bitter denunciation when he spoke out against our involvement in the Viet Nam war, and last year’s recipient of the Nobel prize, the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, languishes in a Chinese prison for daring to write about a democratic future for his country. I suppose we could say that Paul is in good company and as he told me just a few weeks ago, “I am not threatened and I will not be silent” As Charlie Clements, the director of the Harvard Carr Center for human rights said recently: “It has never been Paul Rusesabagina’s nature to stay in his place. He would not have saved lives in the hotel had he stayed in his role as hotel manager”

We are so proud at the Lantos Foundation to be adding our recognition to the many others that Paul has rightly received. This “extra” ordinary man never wielded a gun, never swung a machete, but he used his words and his humanity to find a small path in the darkness and helped hundreds of his fellow human beings follow that path to safety. Paul Rusesabagina has set a path for us to follow as well.

Thank you very much.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky: Full Transcript of his Final Words

I can recall October 2003. My last day as a free man. Several weeks after my arrest, I was informed that president Putin had decided: I was going to have to “slurp gruel” for 8 years. It was hard to believe that back then.

Seven years have gone by already since that day. Seven years – quite a long stretch of time, and all the more so - when you’ve
spent it in jail. All of us have had time to reassess and rethink many things.

Judging by the prosecutors’ presentation: “give them 14 years” and “spit on previous court decisions”, over these years they have begun to fear me more, and to respect the law - even less.

The first time around, they at least went through the effort of first repealing the judicial acts that stood in their way. Now - they’ll just leave them be; especially since they would need to repeal not two, but more than 60 decisions.

I do not want to return to the legal side of the case at this time. Everybody who wanted to understand something – has long since understood everything. Nobody is seriously waiting for an admission of guilt from me. It is hardly likely that somebody today would believe me if I were to say that I really did steal all the oil produced by my company.

But neither does anybody believe that an acquittal in the YUKOS case is possible in a Moscow court. Notwithstanding, I want to talk to you about hope. Hope – the main thing in life.

I remember the end of the ’80s of the last century. I was 25 then. Our country was living on hope of freedom, hope that we would be able to achieve happiness for ourselves and for our children.

We lived on this hope. In some ways, it did materialise, in others – it did not. The responsibility for why this hope was not realized all the way, and not for everybody, probably lies on our entire generation, myself included.

I remember too the end of the last decade and the beginning of the present, current one. By then I was 35. We were building the best oil company in Russia. We were putting up sports complexes and cultural centres, laying roads, and resurveying and developing dozens of new fields; we started development of the East Siberian reserves and were introducing new technologies. In short, - we were doing all those things that Rosneft, which has taken possession of Yukos, is so proud of today.

Thanks to a significant increase in oil production, including as the result of our successes, the country was able to take advantage of a favourable oil situation. We felt hope that the period of convulsions and unrest – was behind us at last, and that, in the conditions of stability that had been achieved with great effort and sacrifice, we would be able to peacefully build ourselves a new life, a great country.

Alas, this hope too has yet to be justified. Stability has come to look like stagnation. Society has stopped in its tracks. Although hope still lives. It lives on even here, in the Khamovnichesky courtroom, when I am already just this side of 50 years old.

With the coming of a new President (and more than two years have already passed since that time), hope appeared once again for many of my fellow citizens too. Hope that Russia would yet become a modern country with a developed civil society. Free from the arbitrary behaviour of officials, free from corruption, free from unfairness and lawlessness.

It is clear that this can not happen all by itself, or in one day. But to pretend that we are developing, while in actuality, - we are merely standing in one place or sliding backwards, even if it is behind the cloak of noble conservatism, - is no longer possible. Impossible and simply dangerous for the country.

It is not possible to reconcile oneself with the notion that people who call themselves patriots so tenaciously resist any change that impacts their feeding trough or ability to get away with anything. It is enough to recall art. 108 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation - arresting businessmen for filing of tax returns by bureaucrats. And yet it is precisely the sabotage of reforms that is depriving our country of prospects. This is not patriotism, but rather hypocrisy.

I am ashamed to see how certain persons - in the past, respected by me - are attempting to justify unchecked bureaucratic behaviour and lawlessness. They exchange their reputation for a life of ease, privileges and sops.

Luckily, not all are like that, and there are ever more of the other kind.

It makes me proud to know that even after 7 years of persecutions, not a single one of the thousands of YUKOS employees has agreed to become a false witness, to sell their soul and conscience.

Dozens of people have personally experienced threats, have been cut off from family, and have been thrown in jail. Some have been tortured. But, even after losing their health and years of their lives, people have still kept the thing they deemed to be most important, - human dignity.

Those who started this shameful case, - Biryukov, Karimov and others, - have contemptuously called us “entrepreneurs” 
[«kommersanty»], regarding us as low-lifes, capable of anything just to protect our prosperity and avoid prison.

The years have passed. So who are the low-lifes now? Who is it that have lied, tortured, and taken hostages, all for the sake of money and out of cowardice before their bosses?

And this they called “the sovereign’s business” [«gosudarevoye delo»]!

Shameful. I am ashamed for my country.

I think all of us understand perfectly well – the significance of our trial extends far beyond the scope of my fate and Platon’s, and even the fates of all those who have guiltlessly suffered in the course of the sweeping massacre of YUKOS, those I found myself unable to protect, but about whom I remember every day.

Let us ask ourselves: what must be going through the head of the entrepreneur, the high-level organiser of production, or simply any ordinary educated, creative person, looking today at our trial and knowing that its result is absolutely predictable?

The obvious conclusion a thinking person can make is chilling in its stark simplicity: the siloviki bureaucracy can do anything. There is no right of private property ownership. A person who collides with “the system” has no rights whatsoever.

Even though they are enshrined in the law, rights are not protected by the courts. Because the courts are either also afraid, or are themselves a part of “the system”. Should it come as a surprise to anyone then that thinking people do not aspire to selfrealisation here, in Russia?

Who is going to modernise the economy? Prosecutors? Policemen? Chekists? We already tried such a modernization - it did not work. We were able to build a hydrogen bomb, and even a missile, but we still can not build – our own good, modern television, our own inexpensive, competitive, modern automobile, our own modern mobile phone and a whole pile of other modern goods as well.

But then we have learnt how to beautifully display others’ obsolete models produced in our country and an occasional creation of Russian inventors, which, if they ever do find a use, it will certainly be in some other country.

Whatever happened with last year’s presidential initiatives in the realm of industrial policy? Have they been buried? They offer the real chance to kick the oil addiction.

Why? Because what the country needs is not one Korolev, and not one Sakharov under the protective wing of the all-powerful Beria and his million-strong armed host, but hundreds of thousands of “korolevs” and “sakharovs”, under the protection of fair and comprehensible laws and independent courts, which will give these laws life, and not just a place on a dusty shelf, as they did in their day - with the Constitution of 1937.

Where are these “korolevs” and “sakharovs” today? Have they left the country? Are they preparing to leave? Have they once again gone off into internal emigration? Or taken cover amongst the grey bureaucrats in order not to fall under the steamroller of“the system”?

We can and must change this.

How is Moscow going to become the financial centre of Eurasia if our prosecutors, “just like” 20 and 50 years ago, are directly and unambiguously calling in a public trial for the desire to increase the production and market capitalisation of a private company - to be ruled a criminally mercenary objective, for which a person ought to be locked up for 14 years? Under one sentence a company that paid more tax than anyone else, except Gazprom, but still underpaid taxes; and with the second sentence it’s obvious that there’s nothing to tax since the taxable item was stolen.

A country that tolerates a situation where the siloviki bureaucracy holds tens and even hundreds of thousands of talented entrepreneurs, managers, and ordinary people in jail in its own interests, instead of and together with criminals, - this is a sick country.

A state that destroys its best companies, which are ready to become global champions; a country that holds its own citizens in contempt, trusting only the bureaucracy and the special services – is a sick state.

Hope – the main engine of big reforms and transformations, the guarantor of their success. If hope fades, if it comes to be supplanted by profound disillusionment, - who and what will be able to lead our Russia out of the new stagnation?

I will not be exaggerating if I say that millions of eyes throughout all of Russia and throughout the whole world are watching for the outcome of this trial.

They are watching with the hope that Russia will after all become a country of freedom and of the law, where the law will be above the bureaucratic official.

Where supporting opposition parties will cease being a cause for reprisals.

Where the special services will protect the people and the law, and not the bureaucracy from the people and the law.

Where human rights will no longer depend on the mood of the tsar. Good or evil.

Where, on the contrary, the power will truly be dependent on the citizens, and the court – only on law and God. Call this conscience - if you prefer.

I believe, this - is how it will be.

I am not at all an ideal person, but I am - a person with an idea. For me, as for anybody, it is hard to live in jail, and I do not want to die there.

But if I have to - I will not hesitate. The things I believe in are worth dying for. I think I have proven this.

And you opponents? What do you believe in? That the bosses are always right? Do you believe in money? In the impunity of“the system”?

Your Honour!

There is much more than just the fates of two people in your hands. Right here and right now, the fate of every citizen of our country is being decided. Those who, on the streets of Moscow and Chita, Peter and Tomsk, and other cities and settlements, are not counting on becoming victims of police lawlessness, who have set up a business, built a house, achieved success and want to pass it on to their children, not to raiders in uniform, and finally, - those who want to honourably carry out their duty for a fair wage, not expecting that they can be fired at any moment by corrupt bosses under just about any pretext.

This is not about me and Platon – at any rate, not only about us. It is about hope for many citizens of Russia. About hope that tomorrow, the court will be able to protect their rights, if yet some other bureaucrats-officials get it into their head to brazenly and demonstratively violate these rights.

I know, there are people, I have named them in the trial, who want to keep us in jail. To keep us there forever! Indeed, they do not even conceal this, publicly reminding everyone about the existence of a “bottomless” case file.

They want to show: they – are above the law, they will always accomplish whatever they might “think up”. So far they have achieved the opposite: out of ordinary people they have created a symbol of the struggle with arbitrariness. But for them, a conviction is essential, so they would not become “scapegoats”.

I want to hope that the court will stand up to their psychological pressure. We all know through whom it will come.

I want an independent judiciary to become a reality and the norm in my country, I want the phrase from the Soviet times about “the most just court in the world” to stop sounding just as ironic today as they did back then. I want us not to leave the dangerous symbols of a totalitarian system as an inheritance for our children and grandchildren.

Everybody understands that your verdict in this case - whatever it will be – is going to become part of the history of Russia. Furthermore, it is going to form it for the future generation. All the names - those of the prosecutors, and of the judges - will remain in history, just like they have remained in history after the infamous Soviet trials.

Your Honour, I can imagine perfectly well that this must not be very easy at all for you - perhaps even frightening – and I wish you courage!

Annette Lantos' statement for The Christians United for Israel Summit in Washington, DC

"I am deeply grateful to be here, and honored to accept this award on Tom’s behalf.

My husband Tom and I first met when I was six. And we spent the next 70 years as sweethearts.

His love affair with Israel was almost as long. And like ours, it was an epic romance.

As a survivor of the Holocaust, Tom’s first visit to Israel touched him in ways that are almost impossible to describe. Against the backdrop of the unconscionable devastation of European Jewry, he saw Jewish families working to build a future amid the rocks and sand. And he saw a people committed to making the dessert bloom, and fulfilling the promise of the Holy Land.

Tom also realized that Israel’s future was uncertain. He had seen enough of the world and enough of war to know that the line between Israel’s survival and Israel’s destruction was paper thin. So he made it part of his life’s mission to stand for Israel – to work for a world in which its people would live without the fear of another Holocaust.

Tom also recognized that people of good will from all faiths would have to join in this cause. During the Second World War, his life had been saved through the intervention of a Swedish Lutheran named Raoul Wallenberg. And he knew that in the fight to secure Israel’s future, Christians would have to show that same commitment a million times over.

Tonight, we can look out on this room and see the awakening in the hearts of thousands of Christians who have accepted that call. Like my husband, you have made a commitment to stand with Israel.

It fills me with emotion – and hope – to know that so many Christians are coming together to support the aspiration of a secure and lasting homeland for the Jewish people. It is a phenomenon that can only be explained though God’s divine intervention.

Pastor and Mrs. Hagee, you have been the pioneers in working to turn this extraordinary moment into a movement. And I thank you for your work to cultivate this great awakening. If Tom were here, he would be as honored as I am to accept this Defender of Israel Award.

Before he died, Tom asked me, our daughters, and our 17 grandchildren to work to carry on his legacy. And with help from thousands of supporters, we have created the Lantos Foundation to continue his work. The Foundation raises its voice when others are silent. It calls the world to remember the evils of the past so they are not visited upon the future. And it seeks to create a world in which all people – and especially the people of Israel – will be able to live their lives free from fear.

As I receive this award with humility and gratitude, I ask you to join us in this work. Israel has made great progress since Tom’s first visit. But the task of defending Israel is never finished. It has been a constant – from the time of the prophets down through the present day. And we must continue that legacy of courage and commitment. It is our responsibility and our sacred inheritance.

On behalf of my husband and the Lantos Foundation, I look forward to continuing with you in this great cause. And may God grant us the peace of Jerusalem."

Tom Lantos UN speech for Holocaust Rememberance Day delivered by daughter, Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett

Speech by Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett on behalf of her father Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA) Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs

My father wanted very much to be with you today. He sends his greetings, and looks forward to watching this event online when it is posted to the Web. Today he has asked me to serve as his voice; and these are my father’s words.

Thank you, Kiyo Akasaka, for your generous introduction. I would like to extend my special thanks to my friend Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon for arranging this commemoration, a combination of the somber and the sublime that reflects the spirit of remembrance with which the United Nations annual commemoration of the Holocaust was conceived just over two years ago.

We all owe a great debt of gratitude not only to the Secretary-General, but also to his predecessor and my father's friend, Kofi Annan, for his stewardship of the process that brought us to this day. Were it not for their wise and principled leadership, the United Nations still might not have a day set aside each year to reflect on a prolonged nightmare in history that the world vowed never to forget – but some are trying to erase from memory. Annette and I owe our lives to Raoul Wallenberg. During the Nazi occupation, this heroic young diplomat left behind the comfort and safety of Stockholm to rescue his fellow human beings in the hell that was wartime Budapest. He had little in common with them: he was a Lutheran, they were Jewish; he was a Swede, they were Hungarians. And yet with inspired courage and creativity he saved the lives of tens of thousands of men, women and children by placing them under the protection of the Swedish crown.

As a youth in the late 1930s and early ‘40s, I witnessed and experienced the deliberate de-legitimization of millions of Jews, proud and patriotic citizens of countries such as Austria, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Croatia and Slovakia. As momentum gained in the campaign to demonize and de-legitimize these citizens, and later to strip them of their very humanity, the psychological climate of the Holocaust was being prepared – culminating in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, where I lost my mother.

Two generations after the Holocaust, I never thought – I could not even have imagined – that within the structure of the United Nations there would be some who would attempt to de-legitimatize the Jewish State, the State of Israel, founded and built by the remnants of European Jewry and by the hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled from Arab lands.

Worse still, just as an earlier dictator pledged to destroy the Jews of Europe, so a new one is threatening to destroy the Jewish State. It is the responsibility of the entire world community, long-joined by Germany and its fellow former members of the Axis in the Second World War, to prevent another Holocaust, wherever it may occur, and to keep the memory of the killing of six million Jewish people alive as the State of Israel faces constant attacks, and must fight each day for its very survival.

There are many engaged on the other side of that fight, and not only in the Middle East. The very chamber where this evening we commemorate humanity’s recovery from the horrors of the Holocaust is too often the setting for shameless invective against Israel. I am deeply grateful for the numerous principled statesmen of many lands who regularly stand up against this outrage. Their vigilance, like all of ours, must be unceasing.

This point was driven home to me in the bizarre setting of Durban, South Africa, the weekend before the September 11th attacks. The United Nations was holding a conference meant to put an end to racism, a noble goal if ever there was one, but the occasion was hijacked by hate-filled and venomous leaders who perverted the noble idea of ending racism, and turned the conference into a lynch mob against Israel.

As the situation galloped toward the surreal and the gathering veered away from its intended topics of ethnic violence, racism or slavery in many countries and toward condemnation of the one democratic state in the Middle East, it was sadly evident to me that this potentially history-making conference was becoming a travesty. Having experienced the horrors of the Holocaust firsthand, this was the most sickening and unabashed display of hate for Jews I had seen since the Nazi period.

I called our then-Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and related what we had seen at this debacle in Durban. The Secretary asked me and Annette to lead a walkout. Hundreds of media from around the globe told the story. It was a powerful moment in U.S. diplomacy, a righteous defense of our principles and priorities on what turned out to be the eve of a vile attack against all that we stand for.

Over that weekend, I returned to Washington where, on Tuesday morning, I was briefing a group of distinguished Americans about Durban when halfway through my talk the Twin Towers were hit. The news sickened me and others in that room, first and foremost because of the tragic loss of innocent lives, and also because we knew this attack was meant to cut our country to the core, to make us question ourselves and our values, and to shake our very foundation as a united and free people.

As an American by choice, I deeply value the fundamental values of the United States – among them, protecting basic freedoms, democracy and the rule of law. That is why in 1983 I co-founded the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, to encourage my congressional colleagues to fight for fundamental human rights across the globe. The people of the Soviet Union were under tyrannical rule. So we began holding briefings and other public events to call attention to Soviet oppression, and to engender action that could help hasten its end. Since then, the Caucus, in a totally bi-partisan way, has involved itself in a great variety of issues concerning people all over the globe. We struggle for the rights of Christians to practice their faith in Saudi Arabia and Sudan; we fight for Tibetans to be able to retain their culture and religion in Tibet [Autonomous Region of China]; we advocate for the rootless, often-despised Roma of Europe. We try daily to implement Raoul Wallenberg’s message that human rights are indivisible and sacred.

Apart from the Caucus, my work often gives rise to legislation on behalf of human rights. I have spearheaded efforts in Congress to impose economic sanctions on governments that do not respect the human rights of their people, such as the ruling thugs in Burma and some of Iran’s leaders.

When I was elected to Congress 27 years ago, my first piece of legislation as a freshman member made Raoul Wallenberg an honorary U.S. citizen. Just after the war Wallenberg had been arrested by the Soviet troops who liberated Budapest and accused of being a spy for the United States. Nearly four decades later it was widely believed that he was still alive and in Soviet custody. Until then, honorary U.S. citizenship had been conferred only on Winston Churchill, so this unusual distinction had the desired effect: It put Wallenberg’s case in the international spotlight, and fueled the efforts to free him.

Sadly, the work to free him has been in vain. Raoul Wallenberg may have paid for his bravery with his life. But he provides an inspiring model of selfless courage that will always endure. His example will teach future generations the most important lesson of human history: In order to survive, in order to create more livable conditions in this world, we must accept the responsibility of becoming our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers – every one of them, and every one of us.

The people gathered in this vast hall where so much good has been done on humanity’s behalf know that already. On this day dedicated to one of the worst episodes in human history, let us rededicate ourselves to stopping current tragedies such as the genocide in Darfur – and there is no other proper word for this atrocity -- and to preventing such inhuman cruelty in the future. We must remember that the veneer of civilization is paper thin. We are its guardians, and we can never rest.

I want to thank you for inviting me here today to speak on this vital topic before such an august gathering, and I want to say that my wife, Annette, and I are living proof that the past can be overcome, but must never be forgotten.

I want to close my remarks tonight by sharing a story told about a wise Rabbi and his students. The rabbi asked his young followers this question – “How can one know the moment when the night has ended and the dawn has come?” One student responded, “Is it when a man walking through the woods can tell whether the approaching animal is a wolf or a dog?” The Rabbi shook his head no. Another student volunteered, “Isn’t it when a man walking through the village can distinguish the roof of his house from that of his neighbors?” Once again the Rabbi shook his head.

Then the Rabbi spoke: “The moment when you know that the night has turned to day is when you see the face of a stranger and recognize him as your brother.”

Let us pray for the dawn of that day.