Loss of Human Rights Champion Mourned by Freedom House | Freedom House

Loss of Human Rights Champion Mourned by Freedom House

Washington, D.C.
The death of Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), an unswerving champion of freedom, marks the loss of one of the strongest supporters of human rights who has ever served in Congress, Freedom House said today.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I reflect today on Congressman Lantos’ contributions to the cause of human rights worldwide,” said Jennifer Windsor, executive director of Freedom House. “His profound commitment to helping people around the world gave deep meaning to his tenure as a public servant in Washington. We hope his work--and his legacy--will inspire a new generation of human rights advocates in Congress.”

As Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Lantos was serving his 14th term in the U.S. House of Representatives.  He announced in January that he would not run for re-election due to his fight against cancer.  The only member of Congress to have survived the Holocaust, Lantos was a staunch supporter of human rights, and in 1983 co-founded the important Congressional Human Rights Caucus. He supported assistance to the formerly communist countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and was an outspoken critic of human rights abuses in countries such as China, even when his voice was in a solid minority.

“Congressman Lantos was fighting for freedom right up to the end.  I personally will never forget his eloquence, and his anger, over Yahoo's betrayal of Chinese democracy activists,” said Ms.  Windsor. “He was deeply patriotic, in the very best sense of the word, and loved the United States for its role as a haven for political refugees.  In return, he greatly enriched democracy here and throughout the world.”

Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom around the world, has monitored political rights and civil liberties around the world since 1972. 

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