Canada ALPHA

 Program for Global Day of Action in Support of Redress for

"Comfort Women" and other Asian Holocaust Victims

Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the End of WWII in Asia

Survivors' testimonies on video are available to download from here.


One minute silent tribute to "comfort women" and other victims of Asian Holocaust 

Proclamation of August 15, 2005 as Day of Peace in the Pacific - Councillor Tim Louis

Testimony - Tony Cowling, survivor of POW by Japan 

Testimony of former "comfort woman", Madam Hwang So Gyun - read by Kilim Park, UBC Student of Korean descent who accompanied the Korean “comfort woman” who testified at the Conference on Preventing Crimes Against Humanity – Lessons from the Asia-Pacific War at UBC in 2003

Solidarity Message from the Korean survivors of military sexual slavery by Japan - read by Mary-Woo Sims, former Human Rights Commissioner of BC

Statement on Global Call for Justice to "Comfort Women" from The Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan – read by Jeannie Pak, President of Korean Society of Cultural & Fraternity of BC 

Speeches of Support

 ******

Excerpts of 3 survivors’ testimonies on DVD are available for electronic media’s use. Click on the following links  to view online. To save a copy, right-click on the link and select "Save Target As" from the pop-up menu.

Video File Format
WitnessToHistoryHighRes.mov (103 MB) Apple QuickTime v6.5 or later
WitnessToHistoryLowRes.mov (13 MB)   Apple QuickTime v6.5 or later

For more information, please contact bcalpha@shaw.ca.

 

 ******

 

Proclamation of August 15, 2005 as Day of Peace in the Pacific

 

 ******

 

Testimony - HWANG So Gyun, former Korean "comfort women"

Excerpt from the testimony of Madam HWANG So Gyun who testified at the Commission on Human Rights of the United Nations 1995 when she was 77 years old.  Madam HWANG is a survivor of Japanese military sexual slavery, the so-called “comfort women”.

“I was born on the 28th of November 1918 in Korea as the second daughter of a day laborer.  When I was seventeen years old, in 1936, the head of our village came to our house and promised to help me find a job in a factory. Because my family was so poor, I gladly accepted this offer of a well-paid job. I was taken to the railway station in a Japanese truck where twenty or so other Korean girls were already waiting. We were put on the train, then onto a truck and after a few days travel we reached a big house at the River Mudinjian in China.  I thought it was the factory, but I soon realized that there was no factory.

Each girl was assigned one small room with a straw bag to sleep on, with a number on each door.   After two days of waiting, without knowing what was happening to me, a Japanese soldier in army uniform, wearing a sword, came to my room.  He asked me, “will you obey my words or not?” then pulled my hair, put me on the floor and asked me to open my legs. He raped me. When he left, I saw there were twenty or thirty more men waiting outside. They all raped me that day. From then on, every night I was assaulted by fifteen to twenty men.

We had to undergo medical examinations regularly. Those who were found disease-stricken were killed and buried in unknown places. One day, a new girl was put in the compartment next to me. She tried to resist the men and bit one of them in his arm. She was then taken to the courtyard and in front of all of us, her head was cut off with a sword and her body was cut into small pieces.”

Madam HWANG was one of the estimated 400,000 women and girls kidnapped by the Japanese Imperial Army from Korea, the Philippines, China, Burma, Indonesia and other Japanese occupied countries.  They were forced to serve as sex slaves in brothels sanctioned and run by the Japanese army.  Less than 30% of them survived the War.

******
 

Solidarity Message

from the Korean survivors of military sexual slavery by Japan

2005 marks the 60th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonialism. We, however, have yet to feel fully liberated from the after-effects of Japanese colonial rule.  The memories of military sexual slavery continue to plague us even though we do not want to relive or even discuss them.  Ever since we came home, we have lived as if we had committed unmentionable sins. We, however, have finally decided to break the six decades of silence after having witnessed the Japanese government repeatedly refuse to admit to its wartime crimes.  

For the past 14 years, we have been staging a protest rally every Wednesday at noon in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul.  Each week we demand that the Japanese government formally apologize and legally compensate the victims of military sexual slavery. Most of us are elderly women in our 80s and 90s and our health is deteriorating rapidly. Many of our friends have already passed away. We often become frustrated and despondent at the lack of action by the Japanese government. However when we hear words of encouragement from young students or our friends from overseas, our frustration and despair turn into hope. We also feel encouraged by news that the international community is also demanding that the Japanese government address its past wrongdoings. 

Our demand is very simple. We want the Japanese government to apologize to us of its wartime atrocities. Such actions will send a clear message to the world that no one should fall victims to such heinous crimes. We would like to show our sincere appreciation to our partners from around the world who joined us today to mark the Global Action Day for justice to “comfort women”. We will never cease to fight until the day we die so that our struggle leads to peace and justice for all the victims of wartime crimes. Thank you very much.

******

 

Statement:  60th Anniversary of the End of World War II

Global Call for Justice to 'Comfort Women'!

Justice to the victims of the Japanese military sexual slavery!

Legal compensation by Japan to the survivors!

No permanent seat for Japan on the U.N. Security Council!

During the 2nd World War, crimes against humanity and war crimes drove the whole of Europe and Asia into indescribable human sufferings and atrocities. Today, six decades after the War, we see two contrasting cases of state accountability for the crimes committed during the War. Germany has consistently prosecuted wartime criminals and compensated to the wartime victims. Japan, however, has done little to address its past wrongdoings, especially regarding its crimes of sexual slavery for the then Japanese Imperial Army. Far from offering sincere apologies or legal compensation to the victims, Japan has avoided its state responsibility and has continued to distort history.

Today marks Global Action Day where the world comes together to demand justice for the survivors of Japanese military sexual slavery. Today, people from around the world join the survivors in South Korea and the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan to show our support for their 14-year long struggle.  Since 8 January 1992, they have been continuing the weekly protest rally in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul every single Wednesday, demanding official apology and legal compensation from Japan.

In sisterhood and solidarity, we declare today a true liberation to the victims of the Japanese military sexual slavery from their emotional and physical pain and trauma they have long endured. In order to restore honor and dignity to the victims and the survivors, we demand the following:

1. Japan should pay legal compensation to ‘comfort women’. During World War II, Japan murdered, raped and enslaved hundreds of thousands of Asian women into sexual slavery for its army. Japan, however, denied thorough investigation, refused to accept its state responsibility and tries to hide the historical truths by distorting its history textbooks.

We strongly oppose Japan’s bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. Before Japan makes any moves to become a world political leader, it should conduct thorough investigation into wartime atrocities, offer an official apology for the victims and pay the due compensation. In order to prevent such heinous crimes from happening again, it should teach the young generations the truth in history and build a war memorial.

2. The UN and ILO should enforce Japan’s implementation of their recommendations. The special rapporteurs of the UN Human Rights Commission and its Sub-Commission, as well as the ILO Committee of Experts on Application of Conventions, have investigated the issue of Japanese military sexual slavery and concluded that Japan violated the international human rights laws and recommended Japan to pay legal reparation to the victims. However, the Japanese government refused to implement these recommendations. As called for by the Global Petition to the UN and ILO signed by 548,724 people, the UN and ILO should take action to enforce the Japan’s implementation of their recommendations.

3. A global solidarity against violence against women should be strengthened. The world is still plagued by war, and women’s human rights continue to be violated. Japan distorts history, glorifies its past aggression and continues to build military power, posing serious threat to peace in Asia and the world. We ask peace-loving people to join in our fight for resolving the issue of military sexual slavery by Japan, in our the fight for women’s human rights in all armed conflicts and wars, and in our fight to end all violence against women whether in war or peacetime. Let’s continue our action to stop and prevent violations of human rights, bring the perpetrators to justice, and eradicate violence against women.

Issued by the Participants in the Global Action Day

August 10, 2005

 

해방(종전) 60주년 일본군‘위안부’ 문제 해결을 위한 세계 연대의 날

               

“ 일본군‘위안부’ 피해자에게 정의를 !

Justice to the victims of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan !


- 해방(전후)
60주년, 일본군‘위안부’ 에게 정의를!

- 일본정부는 UN의 권고대로 일본군‘위안부’ 피해자들에게 법적 배상 실시하라!

- 전쟁범죄 청산없는 일본의 유엔안전보장이사회 상임이사국 가입을 적극 반대한다 !

독일과 일본에 의해 저질러진 제2차 세계대전으로 인해 참혹한 인권유린과 인간존엄의 말살을 경험했던 세계는 전쟁이 끝난후 다시는 이 땅에 전쟁이 일어나지 않기를 바랐다. 그 후 60년 동안 독일은 나치전범자들을 색출하여 처벌하고, 피해자에게 물질적, 정신적 배상을 시행하는 등 전쟁범죄에 대한 법적책임을 다하고, 유사범죄 재발방지를 위해 꾸준히 노력해 왔다. 그러나 일본군에 의해 저질러졌던 전쟁범죄는 전후 60년이 지난 지금까지 진상규명도 범죄자 처벌도 이루어지지 않은 채 역사속에 은폐되어 왔다. 피해자들은 사죄도, 법적 배상도 받지 못한 채 상처와 고통으로 얼룩진 60년을 살아왔다.

오늘은 해방 60주년을 맞이하여「일본군‘위안부’문제 해결을 위한 세계연대의 날」로 지키며 행동하는 날이다. 이것은 199218일부터 14년간 대한민국 서울의 일본대사관 앞에서 끈질기게 시위를 하며 일본군‘위안부’ 문제 해결을 촉구해 온 한국의 일본군‘위안부’ 피해자들과 정대협의 운동을 지지하며 함께 연대하는 세계연대 행동이다.

우리는 다시 한번 세계 시민의 힘으로, 전쟁 속에서 고통당해온 일본‘위안부’ 피해자들에게 해방을 선포하고자 한다. 일본군국주의에 의해 인권과 명예를 유린당하고, 삶을 송두리째 빼앗겼던 성노예 피해 여성들에게 정의를 회복시키고자 한다. 지난 60년 동안의 고통의 세월, 상처로 얼룩진 역사를 깨트리고 희망을 향해, 진정으로 해방된 세상을 향해 나가고자 한다.

1. 일본정부에게 요구한다. 일본은 수많은 아시아인들을 납치?학살하고, 강제노역으로 인권을 유린하고, 여성들을 성노예로 이용하여 인생을 송두리째 짓밟았던 과거의 범죄에 대해 반성하고 있는가? 반성도 법적 책임도 지지 않으면서, 일본군 성노예 피해자들에게 사죄와 배상을 하라는 유엔의 권고도 준수하지 않으면서 어떻게 유엔안보리 상임이사국이 되어 세계의 평화를 논할 수 있단 말인가?

우리는 세계 시민의 힘으로 반대한다. 전범국 일본정부는 유엔안보리 상임이사국이 될 자격이 없다. 일본정부는 먼저 과거에 저질렀던 일본군 성노예 범죄와 모든 전쟁범죄에 대한 진상규명과 사죄, 법적 배상을 실시하라. 그리고 다시는 이러한 범죄를 저지르지 않기 위해 올바른 역사교육, 추모관 건립 등을 추진하라!

2. 유엔과 ILO에 촉구한다. 1990년대 초 일본군‘위안부’ 문제가 국제사회에 알려지면서 유엔 인권위원회와 ILO 기준적용위원회에서도 일본군‘위안부’ 문제는 중요한 문제로 다뤄져 왔다. 그리고 여성인권의 문제로, 강제노동의 문제로 일본정부에게 법적 배상을 권고했다. 그러나 그 권고들은 거부당했다. 그동안 유엔과 ILO는 일본정부가 권고를 받아들이도록 어떤 적극적인 역할을 했는가? 일본의 재정적 기여도 때문에 일본의 눈치만을 살피며 관망만 하지는 않았는가. 우리는 요구한다. 일본정부가 유엔의 권고를 받아들일 것을 촉구하라! 돈이 아닌 진실이, 무책임이 아닌 정의가 확립되는 그런 국제질서를 만드는 일에 앞장서라!

3. 세계 시민사회의 연대를 희망한다. 세계는 여전히 전쟁이 계속되고 있고, 그 전쟁들 속에서 여성들은 또다시 성폭력의 희생자가 되고 있다. 역사왜곡과 침략전쟁 찬양 등 과거로의 회귀를 꿈꾸며 군사대국화하고 있는 일본 군국주의 또한 여전히 아시아와 세계 평화의 위협이 되고 있다. 우리는 희망한다. 이 땅에서 일본군‘위안부’ 문제가 완전히 해결되는 그 날까지!! 전쟁과 폭력이 끝나고 평화가 실현되는 그 날까지!! 세계시민들이 정의의 감시자로 인권수호자로 일본군‘위안부’ 피해자들의 기나긴 싸움에 함께 연대해주길 바란다. 우리 또한 일본군‘위안부’ 피해자들에게 정의가 회복되는 그 날까지, 전쟁과 여성폭력이 없어질 때까지 끝까지 연대할 것이다.

2005810.

해방(전후)60주년, 일본군‘위안부’ 문제 해결을 위한 세계연대의 날 참가자 일동

******

Notes for Remarks by Bill Siksay, MP to the Demonstration on the Global Day of Action in Support of Redress for Comfort Women and other Asian Holocaust Victims

Vancouver, Wednesday, 10 August 2005

It is an honour to stand in solidarity with those of you present here today who lived through the horrors of World War II in Asia, and with those of you are working to see that the survivors of those horrors are heard and remembered, and with those here who are working to ensure that a war like World War II never again takes place.

I also bring greetings from my colleagues Peter Julian, MP for Burnaby-New Westminster, and Libby Davies, MP for Vancouver East, who are unable to be here today.

World War II was a time of terrible horrors in Asia. The atrocities that took place are a reality, and there reality is that terrible atrocities took place. The fact that hundreds of thousands of girls and women in Asia were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army cannot be ignored.

Solutions to these situations do not come easily and reconciliation is elusive. We in Canada know this all too well. Look how long it is taking us to deal with the legacy of our society’s attempts at genocide of aboriginal people—unsettled land claims, lack of treaties, and the sorry legacy of the residential. We remember this history as we remember that today we stand on the traditional territory of the Coast Salish Nation.

As Canadians, we have made some attempts toward remembering and reconciling—there have been acknowledgments, and apologies, and even some reparations—but they are incomplete, and long overdue. We find it hard as a society, as a country, to swallow our pride and admit our mistakes, and then to learn from them, and to avoid repeating them. This teaches us that reconciliation is hard work-our own experience makes that very clear. But reconciliation can only come about from an acknowledgement of the reality of what took place, and of our part in it.

We have models. Canada has worked to reconcile our internment of Japanese Canadians during this same period. Apologies were spoken, reparations made. Redress happened. But, there is still other work to be done on our own record—with regard to the Chinese head tax, the Komagata Maru, Ukrainian Canadians and others.

South Africa provides another model. Its Truth and Reconciliation Commission showed us was hard work and painful work this process can be. And that model too was imperfect, but it remains an important model and example. As Nelson Mandela said: “We need to reconcile our differences through reason, debate and compromise”.

And we know that as this past week we have observed the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that many people in Japan continue to be strong, clear voices for peace and in opposition to war.

I stand here today as an elected representative of a country that has work to do, not being smug or holier than thou. I remember our record even as I call on the government of Japan and our Japanese brothers and sisters to acknowledge this part of their history.

We encourage Japan to acknowledge its history-a history, which like ours, cannot be rewritten. We encourage Japan to acknowledge the horrors committed in the past. We urge our Japanese brothers and sisters to seek respectful reconciliation and a just settlement with the women known as comfort women. Don’t lose this important opportunity. The time for justice is now.

******

 

Speech by Cindy Patten, teacher of Nanaimo, B.C. who met a former Korean "comfort woman" in China on July 13, 2005

Good afternoon.  My name is Cindy Patten and I am a teacher for School District 68.  Today is an important day for those of us gathered at Japanese Consulates throughout the world.  Our goal is to support redress for comfort women, the hundreds of thousands of girls in Asia, including an estimated 200,000 Koreans and another 200,000 Chinese who were forced into military sexual slavery by the Japanese military during the Second World War.

Why is this issue of redress still important after 60 years?  Why does it stand out from other atrocities suffered in more recent history?  There are so many answers to these questions.  Many of us here today have some inkling as to the answers because we have borne the responsibility of becoming informed.  Some of us here today have experienced with ringing clarity the dark legacy of being a “comfort woman”. 

As one of 30 Canadian teachers visiting China this past July to learn more about this chapter of history in Canada ALPHA’s Peace and Reconciliation Study Tour, I had the extraordinary privilege of meeting one of these women.  She was a victim; today she is a survivor and easily, a warrior in her own right.  After hearing her story, the answers to the questions of why redress?  Why now? Are evident.

When she walked into the crowded room, aided by her daughter, I didn’t see her at first.  She is impossibly tiny; when she sits in the leather armchair her head doesn’t reach the top of its back and her feet don’t touch the ground.  For several minutes she sat with her hands still, eyes on her lap, while her daughter rubbed her arm and back to soothe her, to try to make her more comfortable as she readied herself to share her story with a group of foreign strangers.

She thinks she is about 88 years old now, but she’s not sure.  Time and a life of pain have not been kind to her.  Raised in shocking poverty, she became a pawn in the Japanese military sexual slavery system before turning “sweet 16”.  She does remember escaping a marriage as a child bride at the age of 15.  When she returned to her family they could not support her.  Her fate in China was sealed when the Japanese military paid for her brother to get married, and she was sent to a “dining hall” to earn money to support herself.  She was told she could make a fortune.

This was the start of years of hellish existence for her.  The “dining hall” was no restaurant or cafeteria service.  It was a comfort station, housing dozens of young, unmarried girls who were forced to service up to 29 men daily.

She fought back against the sexual and physical assault.  “I was young and tough at the time,” she said with pride.  As she told us how she fought back every day, her voice suddenly became strong, young, forged of steel.  Her body, however, is not.  She still bears the evidence of the atrocities:  she lives with many cracked vertebrae and scars from knife wounds and gun butt beatings.

Although she spoke through two translators to communicate with us, the still-raw emotion in her words painted an unmistakable portrait of her shattered life.  Her voice cracked as she said, “if the Japanese military hadn’t cheated us I wouldn’t have come to China.  I miss my hometown.  I miss my family.”  In the 60 years since the end of the war, she has not been back to her home town, her home country, even once.

As is her will to survive, her capacity ongoing strength is phenomenal, almost super-human.  She married a Chinese veteran and raised a family in China.  Her husband treated her well until he died in the 1990’s.  Now her daughter takes care of her.

Abruptly, she ended the interview by saying “we had a tough life at that time.”  Her final words to us were that she and many other comfort women don’t want to be paid off to go away quietly.  They want the compensation comes with apology.

While she has gone on to lead a long life that includes a family of her own, she will not – cannot - forget.  She still has nightmares and her physical wounds hurt every moment as her mind and body continue to give silent testimony to her life as a “comfort woman”.

Acknowledgement for wartime atrocities has not been given by Japan in appropriate spirit to these women.  Neither has redress in any form, financial or humanitarian.  Acknowledgement and apology are 60 years overdue. 

As a teacher I encourage my students to be the best people that they can be to themselves and to others.  In the long run, my wish is to give them the information, skills, and attitudes necessary to identify and combat such atrocities from occurring in the future, as we all know that they will.  My hope for my students is that they can actively contribute to making the world a better place and to lead by example. 

This is why we are all here today:  to lead by example, to voice the need for honorable redress for these victims of atrocities and survivors of war, loudly and with passion and outrage! 

We cannot have a world that neglects the cries of its people. 

Peace and reconciliation are long overdue for these victims and survivors.
Thank you.

Cindy Patten
Nanaimo
, B.C.

******
 

Message from Councillor Ellen Woodsworth representing Vancouver City to attend A-Bomb Commemorations in Japan

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

On the anniversary of the end of World War Two in Asia we must all speak out to oppose war.

I call on all governments to acknowledge their violence towards women as part of their war actions. The governments must apologize to the women and other civilians and provide redress for their terrible suffering.

Today I call on the Japanese government to formally acknowledge their role in destroying the lives of comfort women. I call on the Japanese government to provide these women with redress. I also call on the Japanese government to include this part of the war in all their history text books. I also call on the Japanese government to protect Article 9 of the Japanese constitution which states that it is "aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea and air forces as well as other war potential will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized."

The 60th International Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs and all its 8000 delegates strongly affirmed their commitment to peace at the plenary session on August 8 in Nagasaki. The presence of a majority of women delegates ensured that the importance of women in the leadership of the movement to end war and demand redress is crucial.

In Sisterhood
Councillor Ellen Woodsworth

******

******