Tuesday, June 12, 2012

QCC Hosts Summit for Comfort Women Survivors

QCC Hosts Summit for Comfort Women Survivors
Victims of WWII atrocities meet at Queensborough Community College to relay horror stories from the war.
By Patrick Conti Email the author December 14, 2011

On Tuesday, December 13, 2011, the Kupferberg Holocaust Center hosted an international summit of Comfort Women and Holocaust Survivors. Credit Patrick Conti

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It's been more than 66 years since the Japanese surrendered to the Allied forces aboard the USS Missouri.

But the Comfort Women Survivors, a group of female captives who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II by the Imperial Japanese Army, have yet to receive an official apology from the Japanese government.

On Tuesday night, the Kupferberg Holocaust Center at Queensborough Community College and the Korean American Voters Council hosted an international summit of Comfort Women and Holocaust Survivors, who demanded justice for the victims of these now infamous Japanese military-operated brothels.

"I don't remember exactly when I was taken. But it was in July of 1942," said World War II comfort station survivor Ok-Sean Yi at Tuesday's forum.

Addressing a packed auditorium filled with unsettled spectators, Yi relived the horrors of her time spent in organized enslavement.

"I had no idea what a comfort station was at first. I was so young at the time that I didn't even know what was to happen when a woman got married. But the place they called a comfort station was such a scary place, indeed, no place for a child," Yi said.

It was at a comfort station in China that Yi said she and several other Korean girls, ranging in age from 11 to 14 years, were forced to engage in horribly violent sexual acts with Japanese soldiers, who brutalized and raped them.

She vividely recalled the horrific acts perpetrated by the Imperial soldiers, describing gut wrenching torments and torture.

"They would beat us, stab us in our private areas with knives, and slash our clothes if we did not obey their orders," she said.

Still, despite Yi's testimony and similar accounts of torture from the 68 other remaining Comfort Station survivors, the Japanese government continues to deny that their soldiers took part in the systematic kidnapping and rape of Korean women during the war.

"But I was there," Yi insisted. "And I saw many other Korean girls there as well."

According to the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, 200,000 Asian women, most of which were barely in their teens, were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.

The Japanese government's refusal to acknowledge any wrongdoing during the war has drawn stern criticism from several Queens politicians.

"It's unusual for an elected official to be at a loss for words, but clearly what do you say?" said state Sen. Tony Avella, D-Bayside.

Avella was joined in his dismay by both state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, D-Bayside, and city Councilman Dan Halloran, R-Whitestone.

All three political leaders called on the Japanese government to accept responsibility for war crimes committed during World War II.

"Tonight's not about blame. It's about recognition and moving forward," Braunstein said.

"The Japanese government must acknowledge that these Comfort Women stations existed, if the victims are ever to find the closure they need," Halloran added.

On Dec. 14, the Comfort Women Survivors group will host its weekly protest outside of Japanese embassies around the world.

Wednesday's rally will mark the Companion Woman Survivor's 1,000th protest since January 1992. Their struggle for justice remains among the longest unanswered protest in recent world history.

We cordially invite you to our event on Tuesday, December 13, 2011. The Korean American Voters’ Council and the Kupferberg Holocaust Center are hosting a gathering allowing Comfort Women survivors and Holocaust survivors to come together to retell their stories during World War II.

This event is planned to commemorate the 1,000th Comfort Women Wednesday Protest in Seoul, Korea. Comfort Women survivors have been gathered together every Wednesday since January 1992 to protest against downplaying Comfort Women issue.

The program will bring together the representatives of Comfort Women survivors and Holocaust survivors and to not only relate their stories but act as a focal point of calling attention to the world of what has taken place.

Please join us and support Comfort Women and Holocaust survivors.

Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Time: 6 PM - 8PM
Location: The Harriet & Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Center at Queens Borough Community College
(222-05 56th Avenues, Bayside, New York 11364)

Contact: 718-961-4117

We need your support.

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