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.

Immigration Ban Hits Leading ISIS Opponent and Parliamentarian

January 30, 2017
Contact: Katrina Lantos Swett
President, Lantos Foundation
Phone: (603) 226-3636


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 Americas 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 nations legacy as the worlds 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.