Thursday, June 28, 2007

Public Reading of Sworn Testimonies at University of Miami

121 Coalition campaign to raise awareness and support for House Res. 121, the "Comfort Women" resolution, continues. Now more than ever is the time to share the stories of survivors with those unfamiliar with the "Comfort Women" arm of WW2 History.

If and when House Res. 121 comes to a full vote, Congress must know that constituents understand and support the bill. Through the witness of the women's stories, we are moved to act.

The Miami chapter of 121 Coalition read excerpts from the sworn testimonies of survivors Lee Yong-Soo of Korea, Cristeta Alcober of the Philippines, Jan Ruff O'Hearn of Indonesia, Maria Rosa Henson of the Philippines, and Kim Koon Ja of China and screened the testimony of Dolor Molina at Hecht Residential College on Monday, June 25th -- the night before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs voted 39-2 to pass House Res. 121 onto Congress.

In response, students, faculty and administrators wrote letters to their Congressmen and women in support of House Res. 121. Here is a letter from one of the UM students:

Dear Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen,

I have recently read House Resolution 121 and strongly support it. While my personal experience with the cause to support the "comfort women" is minimal, I did grow up in a Jewish home with countless education on the Holocaust.

When I was guest to my first presentation on "comfort women," it conjured all the memories of listening to Holocaust survivors with scars, disabilities, and numbers on their arms to prove it. Still to this day, there are people who believe that the Holocaust did not occur.

When M. Evelina Galang spoke about how the Japanese government denies that these women were harmed, it tore me apart and mirrored the atrocities of the Holocaust.

In order for these events to never occur again, we must first admit that they happened in the past. I strongly encourage you to support House Resolution 121 so we never again have to experience our fellow humans going through and experiencing this pain.

Benjamin Viples
Resident Assistant
Stanford Residential College
University of Miami

Now more than ever, our Congresswomen and men need to hear from their constituents to understand that we support House Resolution 121 and the potential to heal, reconcile and move on.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Congressman Tom Lantos

Remarks of Chairman Lantos on H. Res. 121, regarding Comfort Women, at committee markup

I would first like to commend my friend and neighbor in California, our distinguished colleague, Congressman Honda of California, for introducing this important resolution and for all his hard work to give voice to the victims in this matter.

The Government of Japan's unwillingness to offer a formal and unequivocal apology to the women forced to be sexual slaves in World War II stands in stark contrast to its role in the world today. Japan is a proud world leader and a valued U.S. ally, making its unwillingness to honestly account for its past all the more perplexing.

Japan is clearly our greatest friend in Asia and one of our closest partners in the world. The U.S-Japan relationship is the bedrock of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Our alliance and friendship are based on mutual respect and admiration, and together we have helped promote our shared values of democracy, economic opportunity, and human rights in Asia and throughout the world.

Yet, Japan's refusal to make an official government apology to the women who suffered as so-called "comfort women" is disturbing to all who value this relationship.

The true strength of a nation is tested when it is forced to confront the darkest chapters in its history. Will it have the courage to face up to the truth of its past, or will it hide from those truths in the desperate and foolish hope they will fade with time?

Post-War Germany made the right choice. Japan, on the other hand, has actively promoted historical amnesia.

The facts are plain: there can be no denying that the Japanese Imperial military coerced thousands upon thousands of women, primarily Chinese and Koreans, into sexual slavery during the war.

The continued efforts by some in Japan to distort history and play a game of blame-the-victim are also highly disturbing. Most recently, on June 14th, members of the Japanese government took out an advertisement in the Washington Post that smears the survivors of the comfort women system, including those who testified before our Subcommittee on Asia, Pacific, and Global Affairs.

The advertisement suggests that these women, who were forcibly and repeatedly raped by soldiers, were engaged, and I quote, in "licensed prostitution that was commonplace around the world at the time." This is a ludicrous assertion totally counter to the facts.

Our resolution calls on the Government of Japan to officially acknowledge and apologize for the appalling acts that Imperial Japan committed against the "comfort women." It is a resolution that seeks admission of a horrible truth in order that this horror may never be perpetrated again.

But most importantly, it speaks out for the victims of this monstrous act, who were terrorized and brutalized by men at war. It gives voice to these courageous women whom others have tried to silence through shame, bigotry, and threats of further violence.

It is appropriate that this House stand up for these women, who ask only that the truth be honored.

Finally, let me clear up the intent of Congress: we do not want our good friend and ally Japan to believe we regard them in perpetual punishment for their refusal to acknowledge the comfort women episode. We want a full reckoning of history to help everyone heal, and then move on.

I strongly support this resolution and I urge all of my colleagues across the aisle to do so likewise.

as reported by THE NELSON REPORT 6/26

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Congratulations, Congressman Honda!

Rep. Michael Honda, D-Calif., gives a thumbs-up and says thank you to his colleagues after legislation was passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 26, 2007, expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the government of Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility for its Imperial Armed Forces coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as "comfort women", during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II. Honda is the principal sponsor of the bill.
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Photo Credit: AP Photo


"National Coalition Rises to Defend Human Rights and Support H.Res.121"
June 26, 2007

(Washington, DC) 121 Coalition, a national coalition representing nearly 200 civic organizations committed to defending the human rights of "Comfort Women" survivors, enthusiastically welcomes today's passage of H.Res.121 in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The resolution, introduced by Rep. Michael Honda last January, has garnered the support of 149 bipartisan co-sponsors and today's vote is an indication that this historic resolution is headed for passage by the full House of Representatives.

“We commend the leadership of Chairman Tom Lantos for championing H.Res.121 before the full committee,” said Annabel Park, National Coordinator for the 121 Coalition. “We now respectfully ask Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer to schedule consideration of H.Res.121 on the House Floor as soon as possible.”

Members of the coalition feel that passage of H.Res.121 will send an important message to the Government of Japan that the remaining "Comfort Women" survivors deserve justice and the restoration of their fundamental dignity, and that truth, reconciliation, and stability in the region require Japan’s acknowledgment of historical responsibility for WWII-era policies.

From 1932 through the end of World War II, the Government of Japan organized the systematic trafficking, enslavement and brutal rape of 200,000 girls and women during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands. H.Res.121 calls on the Government of Japan to officially acknowledge and accept responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for organizing and maintaining this system of sexual slavery.

121 Coalition, comprised of human rights and pan-Asian civic organizations from across this nation, remains deeply committed and fundamentally united in our support for this important human rights and women's rights issue.

Annabel Park, National Coordinator - (703) 944-9661/
Chejin Park, Greater New York Coordinator - (646) 417-3520/
Daniel Lee, Los Angeles Coordinator – (310) 713-0089/
Evelina Galang, Florida Coordinator – (786) 385-6952/

Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Boston |Chicago |Colorado | Kansas | Los Angeles | Florida| Michigan | Minnesota | Nebraska | Greater New York | North Carolina | Philadelphia| San Francisco-Bay Area | Vermont | Greater Washington | Washington State

PELOSI -- Supporting the 'Comfort Women' Resolution

Contact: Brendan Daly/Nadeam Elshami, 202-226-7616
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today in support of a resolution calling on the Japanese government to formally acknowledge and apologize for its Imperial Armed Forces’ coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known as ‘comfort women,’ during its occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands during the World War II era:

“Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee made a strong statement in support of human rights by passing a resolution in support of the comfort women, who were coerced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces during the World War II era.

“Congressman Mike Honda, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus,is to be commended for his tireless advocacy on behalf of the comfort women and for those fighting for justice and human rights around the world.

“Japan is a valued friend and a crucial ally to the United States. As a responsible member of the international community, Japan is taking a leadership role on issues such as protecting the environment and providing humanitarian assistance for the poorest people in the world. Yet, in this case, the Japanese government needs to do more. It has been more than half a century since the horrors of World War II occurred, but it is not too late to recognize the mistakes of the past and educate future generations so that history will not repeat itself.

“Out of 200,000 women that were exploited as comfort women by the Japanese Imperial Army, only a few hundred are still alive. This resolution calls on the government of Japan to accept responsibility for the coercion of young women into sexual slavery during the war by making an unambiguous statement of apology.

“I look forward to the House of Representatives passing this resolution and sending a strong message that we will not forget the horrors endured by the comfort women. They have waited far too long, but it is not too late to recognize their courage.”

# # #

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Thank You, Congressman Lantos

Congressman Tom Lantos
400 S. El Camino Real
Suite 410
San Mateo, CA 94402
June 19, 2007

Dear Congressman Lantos,

I write to you with great respect and gratitude. I have been working with 121 Coalition in support of House Resolution 121 since Prime Minister Abe spoke on March 1, 2007 and denied the Japanese Imperial Army’s responsibility to the 200,000 women and girls who were abducted and subjected to systematic rape and enslavement during WW2.

As a writer, a scholar and an activist who believes in the dignity of human life, I have been diligently campaigning and educating almost everyone I meet about the stories of the surviving “Comfort Women” of WW2. By now you’ve received many letters and documents from me. In May, I joined Annabel Park from 121 Coalition and Eric Byler and together the three of us conducted a major outreach to the Filipino American community in your district.

I cannot tell you how pleased I am to hear your announcement, that your committee will be marking up House Resolution 121 on June 26th. Thank you! With you guiding the bill through Congress, I know that we are certain to have a positive outcome.

These past few months, 121 Coalition has had a great opportunity to talk to Americans and share with them the beautiful and tragic stories of the women who have come forward with such great courage. What I am hoping is that through the knowledge of these women’s experiences and through this opportunity to reconcile and forgive, we, as a global community will learn to better honor, respect and care for one another. More than anything else, this is an issue of human rights. Thank you for seeing this bill through.

In two weeks, I return to Manila to continue my research on the lives of the surviving Filipina “Comfort Women” of WW2. I am excited to bring them your great news. When I talk with them, what seems to matter most is that their stories be recorded and used to make a better future. They are so old and they fight so hard, yes, for their own peace of mind, but also for the well being of the daughters and granddaughters of all people. One of their favorite sayings is, “Never again.”

Thank you for your great work, seeking justice, equality and the dignity of human rights.

Sincerely and with great gratitude,
M. Evelina Galang