Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission

Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission is a bipartisan congressional body that promotes, defends and advocates for human rights. The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission is a bipartisan body established with the unanimous consent of the United States House of Representatives in 2008.The Commission is charged with promoting, defending and advocating for international human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights instruments.

The Commission undertakes public education activities, provides expert human rights advice and encourages members of Congress to actively engage in human rights matters. In carrying out its mandate, the Commission collaborates with congressional staff, the U.S. Senate and the Executive branch, and continually engages with national and international civil society organizations. The Commission is chaired by two members of the House of Representatives who are appointed by the Speaker of the House and the Minority Leader. The Speaker and the Leader also name the eight members of the Commission's Executive Committee, four from each party, upon recommendation of the Co-Chairs.

Operating as usual

Congressmen James P. McGovern (D-MA) and Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commissio...
03/15/2021
TLHRC Co-Chairs Call for the Release of Belarusian Journalist Ihar Losik

Congressmen James P. McGovern (D-MA) and Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the U.S. Congress, issued the following statement in response to the unjust detention and ongoing prosecution of Belarusian journalist Ihar Losik.

“We are deeply troubled by the Belarusian government’s decision to file new charges against Ihar, after having kept him behind bars and away from his young family for the past nine months. Journalism is not a crime. We condemn the brutal crackdowns and sham charges leveled at the press in Belarus for reporting on the repressive actions of the government of Alexander Lukashenko. Ihar and other political prisoners must be released immediately.

“We are further shocked and disheartened to hear of Ihar’s deteriorating health and morale. We urge him to not give up hope and to draw strength from his supporters in Belarus, the United States and around the world.”

Losik, a 28-year-old blogger and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty social media consultant, was detained weeks before Belarus erupted in mass demonstrations last summer over Lukashenko’s fraudulent reelection. Faced with the possibility of an eight-year prison term, Losik went on a nearly six-week hunger strike in December to protest allegations that he helped organize riots. Losik reportedly attempted to die by suicide upon learning of the additional charges filed against him last week and began another hunger strike.
https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/news/press-releases/tlhrc-co-chairs-call-release-belarusian-journalist-ihar-losik

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressmen James P. McGovern (D-MA) and Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, issued a statement condemning the unjust detention and prosecution of Belarusian journalist Ihar Losik and calling for his immediate release.

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day by remembering the key role of women in the writing of the Universal Declar...
03/08/2021

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day by remembering the key role of women in the writing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that enshrines the rights and freedoms of all human beings and serves as a model for human rights legislation worldwide.

Eleanor Roosevelt, the first chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and former First Lady, oversaw the drafting of the declaration and mustered support for its adoption in 1948. Her ability to find common ground among opposing political blocs led to a comprehensive document that she believed could become “the international Magna Carta of all men everywhere.”

Hansa Mehta, a U.N. delegate from India, was the only other woman on the Commission. She is widely credited for changing the original language in the declaration’s first article from “All men are born free and equal” to “All human beings are born free and equal.” Her push to incorporate gender-sensitive language ensured women would not be excluded from a landmark document in human rights history.

Today we commemorate the 6th anniversary of the assassination of Boris Nemtsov, an outspoken Russian opposition leader a...
02/27/2021
Human Rights in Russia on the 5th Anniversary of the Nemtsov Assassination

Today we commemorate the 6th anniversary of the assassination of Boris Nemtsov, an outspoken Russian opposition leader and writer. Four days before his death, Nemtsov met with Alexei Navalny, a fellow Kremlin critic who survived a near-fatal poisoning last year and is now unjustly jailed.

Political repression in #Russia must end.

Last year, on the 5th anniversary of Nemtsov's murder, the Commission held a hearing on the poor state of human rights in Russia and how Congress can advance protection of rights throughout the country. Read and watch testimony from witnesses here: https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/events/hearings/human-rights-russia-5th-anniversary-nemtsov-assassination

Announcement Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on the state of human rights in Russia five years after the assassination of Boris Nemtsov. Nemtsov, a high-profile opposition leader, democracy advocate and fierce critic of corruption and abuse of power under Vladimir Pu...

02/24/2021

Today marks the 4 year anniversary since Senator Leila De Lima was wrongfully detained in the #Philippines.

As Chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Senator de Lima opened a Senate Inquiry into the unlawful killings committed in the context of the “war on drugs” and called in key witnesses, as well as self-confessed members of the Davao Death Squads, to testify before the Senate in September 2016. Shortly after, allies of President Duterte brought ten people, seven of them prison inmates, to testify before Congress that drug money was paid to de Lima’s driver to help fund her senate campaign. It was later revealed that, following their testimony, prison inmates received benefits in jail.

Last week, a court in Muntinlupa acquitted Senator Leila de Lima in one of her 3 conspiracy to commit drug trading charges. She remains detained on the remaining two charges.

We call on the government of the Philippines to immediately release Sen. De Lima without condition.
https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/defending-freedom-project/prisoners-by-country/PHILIPPINES/SENATOR-LEILA-DE-LIMA

January is recognized as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month to raise awareness and educate the publ...
01/25/2021
National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month - United States Department of State

January is recognized as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month to raise awareness and educate the public about the different forms of human trafficking and modern slavery.

Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines that "no one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms."

Every National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month proclamation ends with the same call to action: “All Americans recognize the vital role we can play in ending all forms of slavery.”

Please access the State Department resources below to learn more about Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
https://www.state.gov/national-slavery-and-human-trafficking-prevention-month/#:~:text=January%20is%20National%20Slavery%20and,and%20how%20to%20spot%20it.

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Every year since 2010, the President has dedicated the month to raising awareness about the different forms of human trafficking, also known as modern slavery, and educating people about this crime and how to spot it.

Today human rights activist and Defending Freedoms Project prisoner of conscience Abduljalil al-Singace celebrates his 5...
01/15/2021
Abduljalil Al-Singace

Today human rights activist and Defending Freedoms Project prisoner of conscience Abduljalil al-Singace celebrates his 59th birthday while still unjustly imprisoned in Bahrain.

Abduljalil Al-Singace is a Bahraini engineer, blogger, and human rights activist. On his blog, Al-Faseela, Al-Singace wrote critically about human rights violations, sectarian discrimination and repression of the political opposition in his native Bahrain. He also monitored the human rights situation for the Shia-dominated opposition Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy.

On June 22, 2011, Al-Singace was charged with “plotting to topple” the government, and as a result, the National Safety Court sentenced him to life in prison. On January 7, 2013, Al-Singace appeal was brought to Court of Cassation, unfortunately the court upheld his prescribed sentence.

Al-Singace has been denied medical treatment, a violation of his right to health and an act of intentional cruelty, and has been subjected to verbal, physical, and sexual assault, prolonged solitary confinement, and forced standing despite his physical condition.

Scholars at Risk advocates on behalf of Dr. al-Singace through the TLHRC Defending Freedoms Project. We renew the call for the government of Bahrain to unconditionally release Abduljalil al-Singace, as well as all other prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.

https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/defending-freedom-project/prisoners-by-country/Bahrain/Abduljalil%20Al-Singace

Detained Since: March 17, 2011. Charges: Plotting to topple the government. Sentence: Life in prison. Biography: Abduljalil Al-Singace is a Bahraini engineer, blogger, and human rights activist. On his blog, Al-Faseela, Al-Singace wrote critically about human rights violations, sectarian discriminat...

Today marks seven years since Uyghur scholar and Defending Freedoms Project prisoner of conscience Ilham Tohti was arres...
01/15/2021
Ilham Tohti

Today marks seven years since Uyghur scholar and Defending Freedoms Project prisoner of conscience Ilham Tohti was arrested in China.

A consistent advocate for the rights of the Uyghur people, Ilham Tohti was arrested on January 15, 2014 after police raided his apartment and confiscated his laptops, books and papers. In September 2014, after a two-day trial, Tohti was sentenced to life in prison for charges of “separatism.”

Ilham Tohti was a professor at Beijing’s Minzu University, where he was known for his research on Uyghur-Han relations as well as his activism for the implementation of regional autonomy laws in China. In 2006, Tohti founded UighurOnline, a Chinese-language website devoted to fostering understanding between Uighur and Han people, China’s dominant ethnic group. In 2008, authorities shut down his website citing the websites links to Uyghur “extremists” abroad.

He has been recognized for his activism and is the recipient of multiple prestigious awards including the 2019 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize and the European Parliament 's 2019 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

Congressman Jim Langevin and Scholars at Risk advocate on behalf of Ilham Tohti through the Commission’s Defending Freedoms Project. Seven years after his arrest, we renew the call for Ilham Tohti’s release, as well as all other prisoners of conscience unjustly imprisoned in China.

https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/defending-freedom-project/prisoners-by-country/China/Ilham%20Tohti

Detained Since: January 15, 2014. Charges: Separatism. Sentence: Life in prison. Biography: Ilham Tohti is a Uyghur economics professor at Beijing’s Minzu University, where he was known for his research on Uyghur-Han relations as well as his activism for the implementation of regional autonomy law...

01/13/2021
Rep. McGovern calls for the release of Raif Badawi

Today, blogger and human rights advocate Raif Badawi celebrates his 37th birthday from prison in #SaudiArabia, the 9th that he will spend away from his wife and children. He is serving a sentence of 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes, a fine of 1 million riyals (equal to about $266,000), and is banned from any media work or foreign travel for 10 years after his release from prison for "violating Islamic values and propagating liberal thought."

TLHRC Co-Chair Congressman Jim McGovern advocates on behalf of prisoner of conscience Raif Badawi through the Defending Freedoms Project. In a December 2020 speech from the floor of the House of Representatives celebrating #HumanRightsDay, Rep. McGovern called on the government of Saudi Arabia to release Raif Badawi, as well as all other prisoners of conscience unjustly imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.

On the 72nd anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (#UDHR), we celebrate #HumanRightsD...
12/10/2020
Human Rights Day | United Nations

On the 72nd anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (#UDHR), we celebrate #HumanRightsDay.

Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission defends and advocates internationally recognized human rights norms as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including those in Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

https://www.un.org/en/observances/human-rights-day

Human Rights Day commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

December 9th is recognized as International Anti-Corruption Day. As governments and international organizations respond ...
12/09/2020
International Anti-Corruption Day | United Nations

December 9th is recognized as International Anti-Corruption Day. As governments and international organizations respond to the #COVID19 pandemic and develop recovery strategies, corruption mitigation measures should be put into place to make sure aid gets to those who need it most.

https://www.un.org/en/observances/anti-corruption-day

Corruption undermines democratic institutions, slows economic development and contributes to governmental instability. The aim of International Anti-Corruption Day is to support a positive and pro-active stance against corruption.

Join us Friday, November 20th @ 10am EST for a virtual hearing on the status of the human rights of indigenous peoples i...
11/18/2020
The Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Americas

Join us Friday, November 20th @ 10am EST for a virtual hearing on the status of the human rights of indigenous peoples in the Americas.

Click here for more details:
https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/events/hearings/rights-indigenous-peoples-americas

Announcement Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a virtual hearing on the status of the human rights of indigenous peoples in the Americas. At least 30 million and up to 50 million indigenous people live in Latin America and the Caribbean. Their share of the population varies by c...

Join us Tuesday, November 10th @ 10am EST for a VIRTUAL BRIEFING on the current human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. ...
11/06/2020
Human Rights in Saudi Arabia: An Update

Join us Tuesday, November 10th @ 10am EST for a VIRTUAL BRIEFING on the current human rights situation in Saudi Arabia.

Click below for more details: https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/events/hearings/human-rights-saudi-arabia-update

Announcement Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for an online briefing on the current human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. On November 21 and 22, Saudi Arabia will host world leaders for the annual G20 summit on the theme “Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century for All.” ...

On Thursday, Oct. 29 @ 11am EDT, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and the Senate Human Rights Caucus will hold a V...
10/22/2020
Atrocity Prevention and Early Warning: The U.S. Government Framework and Côte d'Ivoire

On Thursday, Oct. 29 @ 11am EDT, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and the Senate Human Rights Caucus will hold a VIRTUAL BRIEFING on the U.S. government atrocity prevention framework and Côte d'Ivoire. For more details and to register visit:

https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/events/hearings/atrocity-prevention-and-early-warning-us-government-framework-and-c-te-divoire

Announcement Co-Hosted by the Senate Human Rights Caucus Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and the Senate Human Rights Caucus for an online briefing on the U.S. government atrocity prevention framework and Côte d'Ivoire. In August 2020, the State Department released the second repo...

In "Today in Pictures" from the The Straits Times, onlookers in Paris, France watch the installation of a tarp calling f...
10/16/2020

In "Today in Pictures" from the The Straits Times, onlookers in Paris, France watch the installation of a tarp calling for the release of Algerian journalist and Defending Freedoms Project prisoner of conscience Khaled Drareni. Artwork is by French street artist and painter Christian Guemy aka C215. Drareni, 40, was sentenced to two years in jail for his coverage of the mass protest movement that toppled Algeria's longtime president last year. PHOTO: AFP

Join us Thursday, October 1st at 9:30 AM for a VIRTUAL HEARING on responses to enforced disappearance in Latin America. ...
09/28/2020
Enforced Disappearance in Latin America: Taking Stock

Join us Thursday, October 1st at 9:30 AM for a VIRTUAL HEARING on responses to enforced disappearance in Latin America.

This hearing brings together esteemed witnesses that will discuss responses to enforced disappearance drawing on experiences from Colombia, Central America and Mexico. These encompass initiatives to search for victims and preserve their memory, strategies to pursue accountability domestically and internationally, the creation of new institutional mechanisms such as official search commissions, and efforts to implement regional and international conventions. Witnesses will also address the challenges that remain and offer recommendations as to how the U.S. Congress can best support civil society and governmental initiatives on this issue.
https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/events/hearings/enforced-disappearance-latin-america-taking-stock

Announcement Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a virtual hearing on responses to enforced disappearance in Latin America.

Today marks 6 years since Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti was unjustly sentenced to life in prison in China. Ilham Tohti is a...
09/23/2020
Ilham Tohti

Today marks 6 years since Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti was unjustly sentenced to life in prison in China.

Ilham Tohti is a Uyghur economics professor at Beijing’s Minzu University, where he was known for his research on Uyghur-Han relations as well as his activism for the implementation of regional autonomy laws in China.

In 2006, Tohti founded UighurOnline, a Chinese-language website devoted to fostering understanding between Uighur and Han people, China’s dominant ethnic group.

In 2008, authorities shut down his website citing the websites links to Uyghur “extremists” abroad. After the July 5, 2009 ethnic rioting between Uyghurs and Han in Ürümqi, Tohti’s whereabouts were unknown after he had been summoned from his home in Beijing. Tohti was subsequently released on August 23, 2009 after international pressure and condemnation.

Tohti was again arrested in January 2014, after police raided his apartment and confiscated his laptops, books, and papers. In September 2014, after a two-day trial, Tohti was found guilty of “separatism” and sentenced to life imprisonment in addition to all of his assets being frozen.

In 2019, The European Parliament awarded the Sakharov Prize to Ilham Tohti, citing his tireless work to foster dialogue and understanding between Uyghurs and other Chinese people. That same year, Ilham Tohti was also honored in absentia with Freedom House's Freedom Award.

On this 6th anniversary of the unjust sentencing of Ilham Tohti, we renew the calls for his immediate and unconditional release, along with all other prisoners of conscience in China.

https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/defending-freedom-project/prisoners-by-country/China/Ilham%20Tohti

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200 C Street SW, O'Neill Federal Building, Suite 5100
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𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗛𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗖𝗼𝗺𝗺𝗶𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻 In 1983, Congressmen Tom Lantos (D-CA) and John Edward Porter (R-IL) founded the bipartisan Congressional Human Rights Caucus (CHRC). The CHRC was dedicated to the defense of all rights codified in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At the end of the 106th Congress, Congressman Porter retired from Congress and Congressman Frank R. Wolf (R-VA) assumed his responsibilities as the Republican Co-Chairman of the Caucus. After the death of founding CHRC Co-Chairman Tom Lantos on February 11, 2008, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appointed Congressman James P. McGovern (D-MA) as Democratic CHRC Co-Chairman, joining Republican CHRC Co-Chair Wolf. On the Speaker’s initiative to institutionalize the CHRC as a full entity in the House of Representatives, the House unanimously adopted H. Res. 1451, the “Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Establishment Resolution,” on September 24, 2008. Pursuant to H. Res. 1451, the Speaker and the Minority Leader appointed Rep. James P. McGovern and Rep. Frank R. Wolf as Commission Co-Chairmen for the remainder of the 110th Congress. In March 2009, the Speaker and the Minority Leader of the House reappointed both Congressmen McGovern and Wolf as Co-Chairmen for the 111th Congress (2009-2010). Both Congressmen were subsequently reappointed for the 112th (2011-2012) and 113th (2013-2014) Congresses. After Rep. Wolf’s retirement at the end of 2014, Congressman Joseph R. Pitts (R-PA) was named by the Speaker as the new Republican Co-Chairman for the 114th Congress (2015-2016). Rep. McGovern was reappointed as the Democratic Co-Chairman. Also pursuant to H. Res. 1451, for each Congress and upon the recommendation of the Co-Chairmen, the Speaker and Minority Leader confirm the appointment of eight Members of Congress to the Commission’s Executive Committee. 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗟𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗰𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝗧𝗼𝗺 𝗟𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗼𝘀 The Commission is named in honor of the life and legacy of the late Congressman Thomas Peter Lantos (D-CA). Mr. Lantos was the only Holocaust survivor to ever serve in the U.S. Congress (1980 – 2008). He was born in Budapest, Hungary, where as a teenager he was sent to a forced labor camp by the German N**i occupying military. He escaped the labor camp and sought refuge with an aunt who lived in a safe house operated by Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who used his official status and power to issue visas to save thousands of Hungarian Jews. Mr. Lantos quickly joined the anti-N**i resistance. After the Soviet Union liberated Budapest in 1945, Mr. Lantos tried to locate his mother and family members, but he gradually came to realize that they had all perished in the Holocaust. In 1947, Mr. Lantos came to the United States to study on a Hillel Foundation Scholarship. He earned his B.A. in 1949 and his M.A. in economics in 1950 from the University of Washington in Seattle. Three years later he received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley. He subsequently served as a foreign policy commentator on television and as a senior advisor to several U.S. Senators. In 1980, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for the 12th District of California. Throughout his congressional career, Congressman Lantos dedicated all of his efforts to raising awareness and respect for human rights around the world and became a leading human rights champion in the Congress. In 1983, he co-founded the Congressional Human Rights Caucus with then-Congressman John Edward Porter (R-IL). After serving 27 years on the U.S. House Committee of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Lantos was appointed Chairman of the Committee during the 110th Congress. Among his many human rights accomplishments, Mr. Lantos was the first U.S. government official to issue a formal invitation to His Holiness the Dalai Lama to attend a formal meeting of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in the U.S. Congress in 1987, an initiative that opened and deepened the congressional relationship with His Holiness. In addition, Mr. Lantos and his wife, Mrs. Annette Lantos, were dedicated to the promotion of the heroic work of Swedish Diplomat Raul Wallenberg, who saved countless lives during the Holocaust in Hungary by issuing "protective passports," declaring the bearer to be a citizen of neutral Sweden. In January 2008, upon announcing his retirement, Mr. Lantos said: “It is only in the United States that a penniless survivor of the Holocaust and a fighter in the anti-N**i 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. I will never be able to express fully my profoundly felt gratitude to this great country.” Congressman Lantos died on February 11th, 2008, at Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland. Comments Policy The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission welcomes and encourages civil debate and discussion of human rights issues. Please note that comments posted by users do not necessarily reflect the views of the Commission Co-Chairs or staff. The Commission reserves the prerogative to delete at its discretion user comments that are abusive or threatening, include profanity, name-calling or personal attacks, or are otherwise inappropriate. The Commission also reserves the right to block any user who violates Commission policies or those of Facebook. Your cooperation is appreciated.

Opening Hours

Monday 09:30 - 17:30
Tuesday 09:30 - 17:30
Wednesday 09:30 - 17:30
Thursday 09:30 - 17:30
Friday 09:30 - 17:30

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(202) 225-3599

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The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission is a bipartisan body established with the unanimous consent of the United States House of Representatives in 2008.The Commission is charged with promoting, defending and advocating for international human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights instruments. The Commission undertakes public education activities, provides expert human rights advice and encourages members of Congress to actively engage in human rights matters. In carrying out its mandate, the Commission collaborates with congressional staff, the U.S. Senate and the Executive branch, and continually engages with national and international civil society organizations. The Commission is chaired by two members of the House of Representatives who are appointed by the Speaker of the House and the Minority Leader. For the 116th Congress, Rep. James P. McGovern (MA-02) is the Democratic Co-Chair, and Rep. Christopher H. Smith (NJ-04) is the Republican Co-Chair. The Speaker and the Leader also name the eight members of the Commission's Executive Committee, four from each party, upon recommendation of the Co-Chairs. For the 116th Congress, the members of the Executive Committee are: Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA)


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