Agence France Presse
Jan 3 2008


US lawmaker Lantos, suffering cancer, to retire


WASHINGTON (AFP) - Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor Tom Lantos, a
strident campaigner for global human rights, announced Wednesday he
was bowing out of the US Congress after being diagnosed with cancer.

The 79-year-old Democrat, who was first elected to the House of
Representatives in 1980, said routine medical tests had revealed
cancer of the esophagus.

"In view of this development and the treatment it will require, I
will not seek re-election (in November)," Lantos, chairman of the
House foreign affairs committee, said in a statement.

Lantos, expressing his "profoundly felt gratitude to this great
country," vowed to work for human rights and civil liberties "with
purpose and verve every day for the remainder of my term."

"It is only in the United States that a penniless survivor of the
Holocaust and a fighter in the anti-Nazi underground could have
received an education, raised a family, and had the privilege of
serving the last three decades of his life as a member of Congress,"
he said.

Lantos was born in Budapest to a Jewish family in February 1928 and
was 16 when Nazi Germany occupied Hungary. As a teenager, he was a
member of the anti-Nazi resistance, and later of the anti-Communist
student movement.

He was captured and sent to a Nazi labor camp north of Budapest, but
said that his blue eyes and blond hair did not mark him out as a Jew.

After the Soviets invaded Hungary, he discovered that most of his
family had died in the Holocaust. By 1947, he was in the United
States on an academic scholarship and became an economics professor
in San Francisco.

Before his election to Congress, Lantos was a well-known television
commentator on international affairs and worked on numerous
Democratic election campaigns in California.

Tributes from across the political divide were paid to the only
Holocaust survivor to have served in Congress.

"As a member of Congress, he has made some significant contributions
throughout his long career, and his is a uniquely American story,"
White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Representative Lantos and his
family."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose San Francisco district borders
Lantos's, spoke of her "great personal sadness" and "deep
appreciation for his outstanding leadership."

"As the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to Congress, he has used
his position to fight for those whose voices have been silenced by
hatred and oppression," the top Democrat said.

"His experience, intelligence, and compassion will be deeply missed."

Since the Democrats regained control of Congress in 2006 elections,
Lantos has used the House foreign affairs committee to launch angry
appeals for greater US action on human rights in China, Darfur,
Myanmar and Russia.

Under his stewardship, the committee voted in October to describe the
mass slaughter of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as "genocide" --
plunging US relations with Turkey into crisis.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress