Tue, Feb 12, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Tom Lantos, friend of Taiwan, dies of cancer, aged 79

AFP , WASHINGTON, WITH STAFF WRITER

Tom Lantos, a Hungarian born-Holocaust survivor and veteran Democratic congressman who chaired the US House Foreign Affairs committee, died yesterday, a month after announcing he had cancer.

California representative Lantos, who was 79, and an outspoken campaigner for human rights, died yesterday morning, his spokeswoman Lynne Weil said.

Born in Budapest to a Jewish family in February 1928, Lantos 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.

Since the Democrats regained control of Congress in 2006 elections, Lantos has used his committee to launch strident 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.

A regular visitor to Taiwan, Lantos was a longtime acquaintance of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and on many occasions stood up for Taiwan in defense of its democracy and freedoms.

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