Congressman Tom Lantos – the Champion of Human Rights Passes Away
Wednesday, 13 February 2008, 4:17 p.m
|File Photo: U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos|
Dharamshala: U.S. Congressman
Tom Lantos – the champion of human rights, a staunch supporter of Tibet
and a widely-respected foreign policy expert in Washington – passed
away on the morning of 11 February, due to complications from cancer at
Bethesda Naval Medical Center. He was 80 years old.
Kalon Kesang Y Takla, Kalon for the Department of Information
and International Relations, in her condolence message, said: “I am
deeply saddened to hear about the demise of Congressman Tom Lantos, who
was not only a steadfast supporter of the Tibetan people, but has
committed his whole life, to espouse human rights and freedom.”
Recounting her first meeting with Congressman Lantos and his
wife Annette, in 1988, in Washington, DC, Kalon said: “I am greatly
honoured and impressed by his compassion and active support for the
just cause of Tibet.”
“I deeply respect him and he will always be in our memory as a sincere friend of Tibet and justice,” the Kalon added.
Congressman Lantos was elected to Congress in 1980 and was
serving his 14th consecutive term when he passed away. During his
political career, which he pursued after a long and successful career
in academia, he was known as an impassioned supporter of a broad range
of social issues, most of which he was drawn to through his strong
commitment to human rights. His championing of human rights throughout
the world was a prominent feature of his tenure on the House Committee
on Foreign Affairs, which he served as the senior Democratic member
since 2001, and as its Chairman since 2007. He also founded and
co-chaired the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in 1983.
Congressman Lantos’ dedication to His Holiness the Dalai Lama
and the Tibetan people culminated in October 2007, when on the basis of
legislation, he sponsored with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in the House,
President George W. Bush presented the Congressional Gold Medal to His
Holiness the Dalai Lama at a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda – the
first time a sitting US President agreed to appear publicly with His
Holiness the Dalai Lama.
In his address to the Rotunda at the presentation ceremony for
the Congressional Gold Medal, Congressman Lantos urged the Chinese
leadership to enter into negotiations on the future status of Tibet.
Annette said that her husband’s life was “defined by courage,
optimism, and unwavering dedication to his principles and to his
He is survived by his wife and two daughters.