Thursday, June 7, 2007

UM Faculty and Students Recognize Philippine Independence Day by Supporting “Comfort Women” Resolution



For Immediate Release

June 6, 2007 (MIAMI, FL): The University of Miami Chapter of the national 121 Coalition will be hosting events June 9-27 to increase awareness and enlist support for House Resolution 121 — a resolution introduced by Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) that calls upon the Japanese government to apologize for rape camps that enslaved over 200,000 girls and women during WWII. Primarily girls under 18, some as young as eight, the so-called “Comfort Women” were subjected to systematic rape and enslavement at “Comfort Stations” set up in Korea, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Taiwan. Because most of the survivors are in their 80’s, this may be the last chance for Congress to act before they pass away. Public readings of sworn testimonies from survivors will be presented as part of Philippine Independence Day celebrations, offering 85,000 Filipino Americans in Florida a chance to recognize the courage of Filipino “comfort women” and advocate for House Resolution 121.

Currently, the resolution has 132 Congressional co-sponsors, but none from the Florida delegation. Amberly Reynolds, a UM student who lives in Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s district in Miami, is urging her representative to co-sponsor the resolution. “As the senior Republican on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ros-Lehtinen has great influence on the fate of this resolution,” Reynolds said. “It’s our job to let her know that her constituents are looking to her for leadership.”

The University of Miami’s 121 Coalition will be presenting English translations of “Comfort Women” testimonies at the following events:

June 9: Philippine Summer Festival
9am-8PM
South Florida Fair Expo Center
9067 Southern Boulevard
West Palm Beach, FL 33421
Enter Gate 12 and proceed to Expo West

June 10: Philippines Independence Day Celebration
11:30 am - 6:30 pm
Orlando Marriott Hotel Downtown
400 West Livingston Street
Orlando, FL 32801
* the hotel is across from the Bob Carr performance center

June 16: Kalayaan 2007
10AM-6:30PM
Miramar Regional Park and Corporate Pavillion
16801 Miramar Pkwy.
Miramar, FL 33027
(954) 883-6950

June 25: Student night at the University of Miami, Coral Gables
8PM
Hecht Residential College
UM Coral Gables Campus

June 27: National Alliance to Nurture the Aged and the Youth
3PM
NANAY COMMUNITY CENTER
659 N.E. 125 Street
North Miami, Florida 33161
(305) 981-3232

University of Miami professor and novelist M. Evelina Galang has conducted extensive interviews with “Comfort Women” survivors in Manila. “For 50 years they were silent, and now they have come forward with great strength and dignity. It is important that the international community hears their stories and responds before it is too late. We are hoping that Rep. Ros-Lehtinen and all Florida Congress people take this opportunity to exercise bipartisan cooperation in the name of human rights, women’s rights, truth and reconciliation.”

The 121 Coalition is a national human rights group representing nearly 200 civic organizations. Galang has set up a blog with video clips of women’s testimonies as well as resources from around the world, at www.labanforthelolas.blogspot.com.

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For more information, contact M. Evelina Galang at labanmgalola@yahoo.com. Or visit www.support121.org.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

APA Coalition Backs Honda's ‘Comfort Women’ Resolution




17 May 2007

Asian Pacific American leaders from Washington, D.C., Miami, New York, and Los Angeles are converging in San Francisco to support Rep. Mike Honda’s (D-San Jose) House Resolution 121.

Cultural events starting May 15 aim to increase awareness of the resolution, which calls upon the Japanese government to accept responsibility for World War II “rape camps” that enslaved more than 200,000 girls and women.

The 121 Coalition is meeting with Bay Area leaders of the Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition and the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of World War II in Asia to strategize about how to organize the Asian Pacific American community here in support of Honda’s resolution.

The May 15 event was held at the Filipino Community Center in San Francisco. A screening of the coalition’s latest short film was followed by readings of sworn testimonies from surviving Filipina “comfort women.”

Scheduled speakers included Bay Area community leaders Barbara Reyes Bermeo, Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, Claudine del Rosario, Korina Jocson, Jocyl Sacramento, and Michelle Ferrer.

The 121 Coalition is focusing on congressional districts represented by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Rep. Tom Lantos (D-San Mateo), chairman of the House Committee of Foreign Affairs, without whom the resolution cannot come to a vote.

Coalition leader Annabel Park of Silver Spring, Md. believes the movement has the potential to bring the APA community together in a manner not previously seen.

“This resolution presents an opportunity to unite behind a positive message that is about healing and reconciliation, and the affirmation of women’s rights,” she said. “It’s also an opportunity to create a lasting network of Asian Pacific American activists.”

Park, who is Korean American, collaborated with Chinese American filmmaker Eric Byler (“Charlotte Sometimes,” “Americanese”) and Filipina American author M. Evelina Galang (Her Wild American Self, One Tribe) on a series of YouTube mini-documentaries featuring testimonies by former “comfort women.” All three were present for a screening of one of their films and readings of testimonies by Bay Area community leaders and artists.

Galang, who traveled from Miami for this week’s hastily scheduled events, said the “comfort women” issue is not widely known in the Filipino community.

“For 50 years the women were silent, and now they have come forward with great strength and dignity,” she said. “It is important that the community hear their stories and that these stories become a part of our history.”

Galang hopes that knowing the women’s stories will motivate and mobilize the community to sway its congressional representatives.

Byler worked with Park doing ethnic outreach for Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) during last year’s election.

“Last fall we were going to our parents and grandparents saying, ‘Ending the war in Iraq is important. Fighting prejudice is important,’ ” Byler said. “Afterwards, we asked them, ‘What’s important to you?’ I think many of them are still haunted by World War II issues because there are remaining questions as to which version of history will be passed on.”

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Global Petition to Support House Resolution 121 hits 2140 and Goes to Washington


Last week I sent the global on-line petition to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. There were 2140 international signatures on the petition and comments from all over the world. When the petition reaches another 2000, I'll send another batch. Here's the cover letter that went along with the 125 page document of signatures, addresses, countries and comments from citizens in the United States, the Netherlands, Guam, Malaysia, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, China, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, France, Italy, New Zealand, Australia and many other countries.

You can still sign the international petition to support House Resolution 121. Go to the petition to support "Comfort Women" House Resolution and make your thoughts known. Or just visit the petition and browse through the comments of the signatories. It will fill your heart.

Peace,
Evelina

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
H-232 Capitol
Washington, DC 20515-6501
May 23, 2007

Dear Speaker of the House Pelosi,

Please find enclosed a worldwide request to support of House Resolution 121.

Soon after I drafted the petition on March 13, 2007, I received an email from a private Japanese citizen who asked me if he could translate it into Japanese and post it on his website. Since then, the global community has responded with an outpouring of heartfelt concern. At this moment, the petition bears 2140 international signatures.

It is true that some of these signatures are from your district, and most of them, while from U.S. citizens are not. A significant number of names here are from the global community.

The document enclosed is more than a simple petition. If you read the comments written by international citizens, you will see how urgently our community feels the need to resolve this issue on a global scale. Many of the signatories write from countries that have been directly affected by the Japanese Imperial Army’s World War II practice of systematic rape and abduction of over 200,000 women and girls throughout Asia and the South Pacific. As you read the comments from Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Guam and the Philippines, you will see that many victims and their families who have never had a time or place to voice their distress, to mourn or to demand justice are writing here and now. They are petitioning the United States of America to support the surviving “Comfort Women,” their mothers and grandmothers, on their behalf. No other government has taken this lead to support women living with the effects of WWII, years after they have been abused. This is an opportunity for the United States to take a leadership role worthy of a first world nation.

The document also makes clear that a number of private citizens in Japan believe that an apology is the right and noble thing to do. Their personal apologies reflect that they desire their government to take full responsibility and to deliver an honest and sincere apology.

In this document, surviving “Comfort Women” can see for themselves that despite Japan’s reticence, the world understands what happened during WWII. The global community knows what the Japanese Imperial Army did. No amount of denial will keep the truth down. At least this much, we can give the old women. But you can do so much more by bringing House Resolution 121 to a full vote and by passing it.

For me, the author of the petition, the document’s request to pass House Resolution 121 reads like a love letter to our women and girls. It is a means of serving justice, of honoring and respecting those who have had to endure these atrocities. And given the times we are living in, it delivers a strong message to today’s generation that we will not repeat a history where the dignity and life of human beings are sacrificed for the “comforts” of war.

Sincerely on behalf of the signatories on the petition to support House Resolution 121,

M. Evelina Galang,
Writer and Assistant Professor of English
University of Miami


Cc: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Congressman Mike Honda
Chairman Tom Lantos
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen
LILA Pilipina-Gabriela
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