Evelina Galang announces
121 Coalition Statement on the Passage of H.RES.121
Monday July 30, 2007
With the passage of H.Res. 121, the United States House of Representatives reaffirms its promise as a powerful advocate for human rights.
We commend the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Mike Honda, and Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Tom Lantos, as well as all 167 cosponsors for their passionate, bipartisan support for this resolution.
We also want to thank Congressman Lane Evans and Congressman Henry Hyde who championed and supported H.Res.759. When H.Res 759 failed during the last Congress, many supporters felt defeated; but others did not give up. The 759 campaign became the foundation for a national movement behind H.Res.121.
We highly commend survivors Ms. Lee Yong Soo, Ms. Kim Koon-Ja, Ms. Jan Ruff O’Herne, as well as all survivors, living and deceased, who advocated for truth and reconciliation, and testified courageously about their agonizing captivity in military rape camps, also known as “comfort stations” during WWII.
We extend our gratitude to the American electorate who supported this resolution by sending thousands of letters and petitions to Congress members from all over the United States.
The so-called “comfort women” issue is not only about the past. It is also about the present and the future. Tragically, Japan’s wartime military rape camps were the precedent for human trafficking, rape, and sexual slavery that continue to this day. H.Res.121 delivers a strong message that we must protect civilians left vulnerable to violence and exploitation during armed conflicts, especially girls and women. The perpetrators of these deeds must now take notice: the world will hold you accountable.
This resolution is in no way an insult to the great nation of Japan. Rather, it is a challenge to leaders of all nations who would deny historical truth for political gain. The people of Japan have long understood that this issue can only be resolved with openness, honesty, and mutual respect. Leaders who deny history, like those who deny facts, serve no one but themselves. The people of Japan deserve an opportunity to put this terrible chapter of human history to rest, and reconcile with the world community in peace and in friendship.
Ethnic and sectarian conflicts in the Middle East serve as reminders that crimes such as these become fodder for future violence if the wounds they cause are allowed to fester without reconciliation, justice, or acceptance of responsibility.
Today, we stand with the United States House of Representatives to urge the people and the government of Japan to accept an invitation from their friends, the citizens of the United States, to officially acknowledge, apologize, and take responsibility for Imperial Japan’s role in the atrocities committed during WWII. We thank those who have sent us messages of support from around the globe, and we express our support for the citizens of Canada and Australia as they seek to pass similar resolutions. We see the success of H.Res 121 not as the end of our campaign, but as an auspicious beginning — one that will continue in partnership with human rights advocates in this country, in Japan, and around the world.
Statement From M. Evelina Galang,
Filipina American Coordinator, 121 Coalition
The passage of House Resolution 121 is an invitation to transcend past crimes against humanity, and a boon to the efforts of surviving “Comfort Women” who have been seeking justice for over 15 years. It is an opportunity for healing and reconciliation as well as a statement that defines what is and is not acceptable even during times of war. It is my hope that Japan accepts the invitation to bear witness to the women’s experiences and to honor and respect them by delivering a formal and unequivocal apology to all surviving “Comfort Women” of WW2.
On September 18, 1992 Rosa Maria Henson was the first Filipina “Comfort Woman” to step forward and ask the Japanese government to accept full responsibility for the WWII systematic rape and abduction of over 200, 000 women and girls throughout Asia. Following her lead, 173 of the estimated 1000 Filipinas subjected to the Japanese Imperial Army’s “Comfort Stations” also came forward and began to reclaim their dignity through organized campaigns designed by feminist grassroots organizations such as Liga ng mga Lolang Pilipina-Gabriela (LILA Pilipina).
Of the 173 Filipinas who have come forward, 54 have died. Today, only a handful of women in their 80’s and 90’s are actively involved.
The passage of House Resolution 121 demonstrates that the United States Congress and their constituents have heard these women. It is a great sign of respect and support. Let Japan follow the example of the United States House of Representatives as they pass House Resolution 121. Let them look to the women, see their faces and hear their stories. Let them acknowledge the past and take responsibility.
Novelist and University of Miami Professor M. Evelina Galang served as Florida Coordinator and Filipino American Outreach Coordinator for 121 Coalition
AN APPEAL TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
On July 30, 2007, the House of Representative of the United States of America will be voting on House Resolution 121 which calls on the Government of Japan to “formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Forces coercion of young women into sexual slavery.
Lila Pilipina, an organization of Filipino women survivors of Japanese Military Sexual Slavery and Advocates and Gabriela National Alliance of Women in the Philippines welcome this development in the quest of all victims of wartime sexual slavery for their long-sought justice. While we are fully aware that the passage of this resolution cannot compel the Government of Japan to make the rightful reparations for its wartime crimes against the women abused during the Second World War, it is heartening to know that there are individuals in the government of the United States whose concern for women goes beyond time and borders.
For the people of the United States who uphold the rights and welfare of women all over the world, we urge you to support the comfort women’s fight for justice – a fight that goes beyond public apology and reparations. It is a fight, essentially, to learn from history so that it may never happen again.
We urge you to go beyond their issue. Systematic rape and abuse of women is a tool of wars of aggression. The harrowing experience of Filipino, Korean and Chinese women in the hands of Japanese Imperial Army was repeated in various other wars of aggression after WWII. Thus, we urge you to support all efforts to put a stop to the current atrocities being committed against women in wars of aggression including the ones you government is sponsoring.
Echo the Shouts of the Elderly Lolas of Lila Pilipina:
NO TO WARS OF AGGRESSION!!!
NO TO ANOTHER GENERATION OF COMFORT WOMEN!