Visit of the Drepung Gomang Monks to Shaker Village in Canterbury, NH.
The Drepung Gomang Monks will visit the Shaker Village in the days leading up to their season's Opening Day on Sunday, May 20th. We hope you will join us for this special program. In light of the immolations recently reported in the headlines, their visit serves as another reminder of the abuses the Tibetan [Autonomous Region of China] people suffer at the hands of the Chinese government.
The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice is in agreement with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in demanding the Chinese Government immediately release Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng. A judgment by the U.N. Working Group, issued in July, held that the imprisonment and reported torture of Zhisheng is a flagrant violation of international law. That judgment was made public yesterday by Freedom Now, the human rights legal advocacy organization that filed the U.N. petition on Gao's behalf.
In 2001, Mr. Gao was listed by the Chinese Ministry of Justice as one of the top ten lawyers in China. However, when he turned his legal skills to the defense of persecuted religious minorities he became a target of persecution himself. Mr. Gao has been repeatedly imprisoned and tortured by Chinese authorities, and since April, 2010 he has been held incommunicado.
According to Freedom Now, a Lantos Foundation Front Line Fund grant recipient, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has had no response to the U.N. Rights Group’s July judgment.
Writing in yesterday's New York Times, Geng He, Mr. Gao's wife, warns that the Chinese government is using the turmoil in the Middle East as an opportunity to further tighten its iron grip on human rights activists while the world’s attention is diverted elsewhere. Dr. Katrina Lantos-Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice said, "At a time when a historically unprecedented movement for human rights and democracy is sweeping through repressive nations of the Middle East and North Africa, the United States cannot close its eyes to the brutal crackdown by Chinese authorities against brave human rights leaders like Gao Zhisheng. We welcome the judgment of the U.N. Working Group and call on President Obama to ask for the immediate release of a true human rights hero, Mr. Gao Zhisheng.
The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice seeks to strengthen the role of human rights in American foreign policy and to be a vital voice in standing up for our nation’s most important values of decency and dignity. Through our Front Line Fund Program we support human rights defenders across the globe. We are pleased to support the outstanding work of Freedom Now.
The Lantos Foundation was honored to present its Inaugural Lantos Human Rights Prize to His Holiness the Dalai Lama last October. At that time we encouraged President Obama to extend an invitation to this gentle man of peace to meet with him at the White House. We are gratified that the President will meet with His Holiness later this month.
The Lantos Foundation commends President Obama for doing the right thing by remaining stalwart in the face of Chinese threats and intimidation. This meeting will send a clear message that the promotion of human rights is a top priority with the Obama Administration. That is a message of hope that will resonate with thousands of people around the world who are struggling to uphold their dignity and their rights in the face of persecution and repression.
In February of 2006 during a congressional hearing on Internet use in China, Congressman Tom Lantos made the following statement regarding Google and Yahoo:
“These companies need to do more than show they have virtual backbone. What Congress is looking for is real spine and a willingness to stand up to the outrageous demands of a totalitarian regime… They need to stand with us in fighting repression in China and everywhere they intend to do business.”
This week it appears that Google and Yahoo have heeded Congressman Lantos' wise advice. As the result of a cyber attack experienced by Google that appears to have targeted the accounts of Chinese human rights activists, Google issued a statement saying that they are no longer willing to censor their search results on the Chinese version of their search engine, even if it means they can no longer do business in China. Since Google took a stand and reported the abuse to the US State Department, Yahoo has made a statement that they stand behind Google in condemning the attack.
The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice applauds Google for its courageous and moral response to this infringement of Internet free speech. The Internet should be a tool of freedom not repression. The free expression of ideas on the Internet can inform, educate, organize, and empower individuals and organizations and it is an especially powerful tool in countries where freedoms are limited. We urge Google and Yahoo to continue along this principled path. The Lantos Foundation looks forward to supporting their efforts in support of free speech, and hope more members of the public and private sector will join them.