Washington D.C., Dec 11, 2012 / 02:06 am America/Denver (CNA).
A new initiative in the nation’s capital invites members of Congress to “adopt” international prisoners of conscience to advocate for their release and to highlight the importance of human rights and religious liberty.
“We must shine a light on these prisoners of conscience until they are free,” said Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, who chairs the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
At a Dec. 6 press conference, she explained that the Defending Freedoms project will encourage legislators to “stand in solidarity” with conscience prisoners, work for reform in their countries and send a message to the world about the importance of fundamental human freedoms.
Lantos Swett is the daughter of former Congressman Thomas P. Lantos, the namesake of the congressional Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, which is working with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and Amnesty International USA to spearhead the initiative.
Annette Lantos, chair of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice and widow of Tom Lantos, recalled how she and her late husband experienced persecution as young Jewish teenagers in Hungary during the Holocaust, escaping only through the compassionate aid of others.
This experience left her husband with a desire to speak out for those who are persecuted, work that is today continued through this new program, she said.