BBG Governor Victor Ashe pays tribute to Annette Lantos and her late husband

Annette Lantos with her husband Congressman Tom Lantos

At the meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) in Miami on April 20, the federal agency in charge of U.S. international broadcasting decided to reverse its earlier decision on Voice of America (VOA) program cuts to China and Tibet. In expressing his full support for restoring funding for these broadcasts, BBG Governor Ambassador Victor Ashe said:

This will make people like Annette Lantos very pleased and happy. She is a special figure in history.

Annette Lantos is the Chairman of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice. She and her late husband Congressman Tom Lantos were both Holocaust survivors. Click here for more information about Mrs. Lantos’ pro-human rights activities.

Earlier this month, Annette Lantos had written a letter to the nine members of the bipartisan Board urging them to save U.S. taxpayer-funded news broadcasts to China, Tibet, and Russia. Her letter states:

“I write to you on a personal basis to express dismay that Voice of America radio and television broadcasts to Russia ceased in 2008. I am deeply concerned that although last year’s proposed cuts of VOA Mandarin and Cantonese radio and television programs were halted, this year’s proposal includes the elimination of VOA Cantonese services and VOA Tibetan Radio Services, at a time when there is significant unrest in Tibet. I urge you to continue the Cantonese and Tibetan broadcasts, and to restore them to Russia.”

Victor Ashe spearheaded the effort to overturn the earlier decision on cuts in broadcasting to China and Tibet.

He recalled that as U.S. Ambassador he had the privilege to welcome to Poland Annette Lantos and her late husband Congressman Tom Lantos when they came in 2005 for the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp.

“It was a very difficult time for him emotionally to visit the barracks where torture occurred every minute,” said Ashe.

Speaking about the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ decision to restore funding in the next fiscal year for Voice of America radio broadcasts to Tibet and for the VOA Cantonese Service with its radio, television and Internet programming to China, Victor Ashe said that “hopefully, the response of this committee will receive the same attention that her [Annette Lantos’] eloquent letter has received.”

In her letter, Annette Lantos noted the efforts of the independent, nongovernmental Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) in support of the free flow of uncensored news from the United States to countries without free media:

“I write in support of the efforts of the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting. The CUSIB 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.”

Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers and member of CUSIB’s Advisory Board, 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.”

In addition to Ambassador Victor Ashe, other BBG members: Susan McCue, Michael Meehan and Dennis Mulhaupt, also made strong public statements at the meeting in Miami last week in support of continuing U.S. broadcasts to Tibet and China.

To read the entire letter by Annette Lantos click here.

The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) is an independent, nongovernmental organization which supports free flow of uncensored news from the United States to countries without free media.

For further information, please contact:

The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB)
New York, New York

Ann Noonan, co-founder and Executive Director
Tel. 646-251-6069

Ted Lipien, co-founder and Director
Tel. 415-793-1642