September 13, 2021

Lantos Foundation, Doesn’t Ornella Sine Atete (13) Deserve Compassion Too?

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Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett serves as President of the Foundation which is continuing the legacy of her father, the late Congressman Tom Lantos

Ornella Sine Atete would be 16 this year. Her young life was cut short in December 2018 when a vehicle in which she was travelling, was ambushed by FLN, the military wing of Paul Rusesabagina’s MRCD political coalition.

By the time the security forces arrived at the spot inside Nyungwe forest on the Kigali-Rusizi highway, the body of Atete like other passengers, had been burnt beyond recognition as the bus was set ablaze by the FLN. To identity this young soul, like those of others, DNA was conducted.

Atete’s parents will never recover from the shock.

There are eight other victims killed from the FLN attacks. Many more will live with their injuries for years to come.

All the while though, the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice, an American group, has blinded itself, preferring to advance its friendship with Rusesabagina without a single recognition of the victims of his deeds.

Tom Lantos (1928-2008), from whose legacy the Foundation was established, is remembered for his compassion and dedication to the protection of human life.

Twice, the young Lantos escaped a Nazi-run forced labor camp in Hungary to eventually become the only Holocaust survivor to win a seat in the US Congress. That’s the epic legacy left behind by Lantos, who lost his life at the age of 80 to a battle with cancer in February 2008.

In life and death, Lantos’ legacy easily transcended the more mundane matters of his career, like approval ratings and election campaigns. Lantos, who referred to himself as “an American by choice,” was born to Jewish parents in Budapest, Hungary, and was 16 when Adolf Hitler occupied Hungary in 1944. He survived by escaping from the labor camp and coming under the protection of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who used his official status and visa-issuing powers to save thousands of Hungarian Jews.

Back in Rwanda, just as Lantos lived through age 16, to become a respected global campaigner, maybe Atete would have turned out to be that change agent too, as Lantos eventually did.

The Lantos Foundation doesn’t consider the life of Atete worth its effort. It is the freedom of its friend Paul Rusesabagina that matters.

Let’s pause for a while and think about it this way. Imagine how it would have felt for Tom Lantos and other Holocaust survivors if voices that mattered did loudly call for release of Nazi perpetrators. Imagine what it would have been like if the same voices whitewashed Nazi crimes, and instead painted them as victims.

On September 9, 2021, Lantos Foundation issued a press release calling upon the U.K. Foreign Ministry to reject the credentials of the newly appointed Rwandan Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Johnston Busingye. That instead the UK should investigate his alleged human rights violations.

Lantos Foundation President Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett directly wrote to the British Foreign Secretary Dominic RAAB, asking him to reject Mr. Busingye, claiming that he played a “key role” in the alleged kidnapping of Rusesabagina.

There is no doubt Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett who serves as President of the Foundation is attempting to continue the legacy of her father, the late Congressman Tom Lantos.

However, Dr. Katrina should be aware at this point that her deliberate refusal to recognize the pain of Atete’s parents, strips her of any credibility to speak about Rwanda-UK relations.

Does Dr. Katrina and her Foundation really think they are going to run the politics and diplomacy of countries, and worse still all based on lies and hate?

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