Saturday, March 17, 2007
When she was 13 years old, Lola Dolor was held captive in a classroom at Emilio Jacinto Elementary School in Tondo, Manila. She was raped several times, by several Japanese soldiers before she lost consciousness. Down the hallway you can see the bathroom where she woke to find a woman washing her. This visit to the former garrison in 2001 is the first time Lola Dolor has returned. We were there on a day when class was not in session, but the school is still a school.
Title: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force's 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.
Sponsor: Rep Honda, Michael M. [CA-15] (introduced 1/31/2007) Cosponsors (42)
Latest Major Action: 1/31/2007 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Rep Ackerman, Gary L. [NY-5] - 2/14/2007
Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2] - 3/9/2007
Rep Becerra, Xavier [CA-31] - 2/28/2007
Rep Bordallo, Madeleine Z. [GU] - 1/31/2007
Rep Burton, Dan [IN-5] - 2/14/2007
Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23] - 3/9/2007
Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8] - 3/9/2007
Rep Cohen, Steve [TN-9] - 3/9/2007
Rep Crowley, Joseph [NY-7] - 2/14/2007
Rep Davis, Danny K. [IL-7] - 2/28/2007
Rep Davis, Tom [VA-11] - 3/5/2007
Rep Eshoo, Anna G. [CA-14] - 3/9/2007
Rep Fossella, Vito [NY-13] - 2/14/2007
Rep Garrett, Scott [NJ-5] - 2/28/2007
Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] - 3/5/2007
Rep Hare, Phil [IL-17] - 1/31/2007
Rep Hunter, Duncan [CA-52] - 3/5/2007
Rep Inslee, Jay [WA-1] - 3/5/2007
Rep Issa, Darrell E. [CA-49] - 3/5/2007
Rep Jackson-Lee, Sheila [TX-18] - 3/6/2007
Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. [OH-10] - 2/28/2007
Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16] - 3/5/2007
Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] - 2/14/2007
Rep McCarthy, Carolyn [NY-4] - 3/9/2007
Rep McMorris Rodgers, Cathy [WA-5] - 3/5/2007
Rep Meeks, Gregory W. [NY-6] - 3/6/2007
Rep Miller, George [CA-7] - 2/14/2007
Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] - 2/14/2007
Rep Napolitano, Grace F. [CA-38] - 2/28/2007
Rep Payne, Donald M. [NJ-10] - 3/5/2007
Rep Rothman, Steven R. [NJ-9] - 2/14/2007
Rep Royce, Edward R. [CA-40] - 1/31/2007
Rep Schiff, Adam B. [CA-29] - 2/14/2007
Rep Sires, Albio [NJ-13] - 2/28/2007
Rep Slaughter, Louise McIntosh [NY-28] - 3/6/2007
Rep Smith, Christopher H. [NJ-4] - 1/31/2007
Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] - 2/28/2007
Rep Towns, Edolphus [NY-10] - 2/14/2007
Rep Watson, Diane E. [CA-33] - 1/31/2007
Rep Waxman, Henry A. [CA-30] - 2/28/2007
Rep Wolf, Frank R. [VA-10] - 2/28/2007
Rep Wu, David [OR-1] - 1/31/2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
Dear Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,
I hope you received my letter dated March 7, 2007.
I believe it's time your government offer a formal apology to the over 200,000 Comfort Women of WWII. Say it to them. Give them compensation. Consider the whole world is watching.
Go to Labanforthelolas.blogspot.com or see the International Petition to United States Congress Speaker of the House Nancy Peolsi at http://www.gopetition.com/online/11466.html.
Many of your citizens have signed the petition and offered their heartfelt apologies to the women, but it's the government that needs to take responsibility. We are grateful to the people. We are hopeful of your governmental response.
Thanks for your consideration,
Professor M. Evelina Galang
Assistant Professor of English
University of Miami
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
The Comfort Women House Resolution Petition was posted just under 48 hours ago and we have 100 signatures. Earlier today, Yutaka Ohno from Kyoto asked permission to translate the letter into Japanese and post it on his blog. The response has been amazing. About half the signatures are from our friends in Japan, citizens who are equally outraged at the Prime Minister's remarks and his refusal to issue a formal apology (to the Comfort Women themselves) and full compensation.
There's a button on the petition for comments and many of the signatories from Japan are taking this opportunity to speak their minds and offer their support. You can view their comments as well as other comments from the US and abroad.
A Japanese teacher expressed a desire to offer all the daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters of Comfort Women a full education in Japan.
Sakamoto Kazumi ( http://blog.kaisetsu.org/) from Osaka, Japan wrote, "Let's join! It is necessary to support House Resolution 121-1H not only for the military sex slaves, but also for young Japanese citizens in order that we should share the dignity of human rights and freedom of spirits."
Our 100th supporter, Haruko Fujimori, simply wrote, "I will support you."
Thank you, Yutaka Ohno for making the time to sign the petition, to translate it and disseminate the information on your blog.
Sakamoto Kazumi is right. Let's join! I invite readers to sign the petition. Let Congress know where the global community stands on House Resolution 121-1H. Let Prime Minister Abe know what we think of war crimes against young girls, now grandmothers, now dying. Let the lolas know we understand their suffering; we respect and honor their courage and we will never forget. They are heroines of WWII and we support them, no matter what Abe says.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Lola is the Tagalog word for grandmother. And on Matimtiman Street in Quezon City, Philippines, Lolas’ House is a community center for a special kind of grandmother. The women of Lolas’ House are survivors of WWII. In South East Asia, 200, 000 young women were taken hostage by Japanese soldiers to serve as military sex slaves. The Japanese called them Comfort Women.
The stories begin in the quickness of the tongue. Formal, unforgiving, the lolas of LILA Pilipina have been taught how to give their testimony –especially to the media. They follow the script. After fifteen years, they can look right into a camera lens and state their name, their age, where they were born. They do it the way prisoners of war are trained to give away their name, rank and serial number. But that is only how they begin because soon afterwards an eye wanders from the camera and glances at me, the one beside the camera, the one behind it. And then the script alters. Sometimes a lola pats me on the arm or leg to make a point; sometimes she grabs my hand as she speaks. Right in the middle of an interview, lolas have been known to lift my palms up to the light and read the signs.
“Only one husband.”
“You only need one good one,” I answer.
“Four kids. Mga-aasawa ka na.” She tells me I will marry soon.
“Kailan, lola?” When?
“Iwan.” She shrugs. “Up to you.”
Sometimes they take my hand to guide me to their scars – places where Japanese soldiers burned them with cigarette butts, scarred them with the blades of bayonets, or marked their skin by dragging them over barbed wire and cobblestones. The stories sink into my bones in just this way. When I tease a lola about her beauty or her youthful sense of humor the camera is forgotten and the voice softens. The lola becomes my lola and the story is a secret that she whispers in my ear.
During my research, I traveled to different islands and provinces of the Philippine archipelago to abduction sites where girls between the ages of 8 through 42 were kidnapped and imprisoned in garrisons – abandoned churches, city halls, farm houses and schools. Survivors took me to sites were their grass-roofed houses used to stand and together we relived their experiences.
I stood quietly in each space and closed my eyes. I considered the lives that were damaged there and I saw ghosts of soldiers walking with their guns and bayonets held up. I heard the crying of girls left swollen and bleeding, only to be taken once more without a moment to clean herself. Somehow in those moments I became that girl. The land, which was part of my ancestry felt like home. The strength of the women reminded me of the strength of the women in my family.
In Maxine Hong Kingston’s portrait of the famous woman warrior, Fa Mu Lan’s parents carve revenge on their daughter’s back, scoring the names of war victims’ onto her once smooth skin. They recorded what happened. They made sure that even in death, no one would forget.
The histories of the lolas are borne on the spines of their backs. Memories of war are carved in their skin in a way we cannot read. They must show us in a list of grievances that line their faces, and course their bodies in the forms of illness and disease. I document the sacrifices of the comfort women and come to understand my own connection to the women and my sense of self. As the lolas guide my hands to scars etched and jagged, I realized that I too have peeled my shirt off my back, and have invited them to score their histories deep into the curve of my back. Even as I am lost in the pain of these wounds, I write so no one can forget.
Above, is Lola Piedad Nobleza standing in the spot in Madalas, Aklan where she was abducted on Januray 16, 1942. She was stooped over cutting grass and when she stood she found two Japanese soldiers beside her, waiting to attack.
To support Lola Piedad and all Comfort Women, write the Speaker of the House, or if you’d rather, go to the online petition and sign it: http://www.gopetition.com/online/11466.html. The text is below.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
H 232 Capitol
Washington DC 20515-6501
Dear Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi,
We the undersigned request you to support House Resolution 121-1H. We urge you to bring the House Floor to a full vote.
Historians and researchers in South Korea and Japan discovered several official war documents in the late 1980’s that established the existence and systematic abuse of WWII Comfort Women. They estimated 200, 000 young women were taken hostage by Japanese soldiers to serve as military sex slaves from all of South East Asia.
After fifty years of silence, surviving Comfort Women have broken the culture of shame to document their experiences of systematic rape and sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army. Their demands are simple -- they would like a formal apology and reparations for the war crimes they suffered, crimes that continue to affect their aging bodies in physically, mentally and sexually abusive ways. The women make their demands in order to reclaim their dignity, and ensure the safety of their own daughters, granddaughters and now, great granddaughters.
The surviving Comfort Women are mostly in their 80’s now. Many are dying. We urge Congress to act swiftly so that some may see justice before they pass away.
M. Evelina Galang, Miami, Florida