Annette Lantos, wife of the late Congressman Tom Lantos, has written a letter to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) defending Voice of America China broadcasts in Tibetan and Cantonese. The BBG put these broadcasts on the chopping block in its budget proposal earlier this year.
Herself a holocaust survivor, Mrs. Lantos recounted the way that VOA broadcasts “fanned the fires of resistance in the brave underground fighters who sought to destroy the brutal Nazi totalitarianism from within.” Her letter states:
“I well remember as a girl in Nazi-occupied Hungary, how every Sunday afternoon my family would draw the shades, close the curtains, and gather around the shortwave radio, pressing our ears close so that we could catch each precious word of freedom and hope that poured out of that radio receiver like manna from heaven . . . The VOA and BBC broadcasts were our one connection to freedom, our one connection to hope, and our lifeline that gave the resistance the courage to endure to the end. . . To cut off the VOA broadcasts would have been to cut off the very legs of the resistance.”
Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, said, “I am deeply grateful to Mrs. Lantos for supporting Voice of America broadcasts into China, as she is a towering presence for human rights all over the globe, including millions who suffer at the hands of the brutal, totalitarian regime in China. With a wave of self-immolations in Tibet, now is not the time to cut off VOA broadcasting in Tibetan. The Cantonese broadcasts are essential as well.”
Littlejohn continued, “As Mrs. Lantos stated, ‘VOA has been the voice of freedom and democracy in China for 70 years. It is highly respected, even venerated, in China.’ Congressman Tom Lantos would not stand for any cuts to VOA. Mrs. Lantos is carrying on his powerful legacy. As Congressman Lantos warned: ‘We must remember that the veneer of civilization is paper thin. We are its guardians, and we can never rest.’”
Mrs. Lantos served as the Executive Director of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, co-founded by Congressman Lantos, the only holocaust survivor ever to serve in the United States Congress. Mrs. Lantos now serves as the Chairman of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice. http://www.lantosfoundation.org/index.asp
Mrs. Lantos’ letter also urges restoring broadcasts to Russia. In addition, it commends the efforts of the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB), which works to ensure that U.S. government-funded broadcasts promote respect for human rights and freedom of the press, especially in nations where these basic freedoms are under attack. Littlejohn serves on the Advisory Board of the CUSIB.
Read Mrs. Lantos’ letter here: