Tuesday, August 21, 2007

FilAm Women Demand Justice for Lolas 62 Years After the End of WWII


Contact: Donna Denina, Vice Chair – Pinay 206.438.3521
Valerie Francisco, Chair – FiRE 925-726-5768
Marisa Mariano, Chair – babae 415.333.6267

FilAm Women Demand Justice for Lolas 62 Years After the End of WWII

Progressive Filipino women's organizations babae – San Francisco, FiRE (Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment) – New York, and Pinay sa Seattle (in collaboration with progressive Korean American organization, Sahngnoksu), member organizations of Bayan-USA, launches a nationally coordinated campaign today to demand justice for Comfort Women. During WWII, the Japanese Imperial Army abducted and repeatedly raped a reported 100,000-250,000 young girls and women in Japanese occupied colonies and territories including China, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

In 1992, Maria Rosa Luna Henson, at the age of 65, was the first Filipino comfort woman to publicly come forward with her story. This encouraged more and more women in the Philippines to emerge from almost 50 years of silence since the end of WWII. On June 25, 1994, LILA-PILIPINA was formally launched and founded by comfort women survivors and members of the Task Force on Filipino Comfort Women. To this day, hundreds of surviving comfort women continue to seek an apology from the Japanese government, demand that their stories be included in Japanese history textbooks, and that they be adequately compensated for themselves and their families.

Ritchelda Estremadura, Executive Director of LILA-PILIPINA states, "Justice remains elusive for the Filipina 'comfort women.' Many of the Lolas have died but we must continue the fight for justice. Otherwise, we will not learn from the lessons of history and more women will suffer the fate of 'comfort women'."

Last month, the United States passed House Resolution 121, which stipulates that Japan officially acknowledge, apologize, and take responsibility for their role in the atrocities committed against women and children during WWII. However, despite the passing of this resolution, we remain steadfast in our fight to end all wars of aggression being led by the United States so that crimes committed against innocent women and children may never happen again.

In light of the passage of HR 121, Representatives Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan of Gabriela Women's Party filed a House Resolution on August 13, 2007 urging the Philippine Government for Japan to "FORMALLY AKNOWLEDGE, APOLOGIZE AND ACCEPT ITS RESPONSIBILITY OVER THE SEXUAL SLAVERY OF YOUNG WOMEN COMMONLY KNOWN AS COMFORT WOMEN BY THE JAPANESE IMPERIAL ARMY DURING WORLD WAR II AND PROVIDE COMPENSATION TO THE VICTIMS." The women's partylist group has also filed House Bill 1136 "An Act Providing for the Inclusion in the History Books of Elementary, Secondary and Collegiate Curricula the Lives and Heroism of Filipino Comfort Women during the Japanese Occupation and Appropriating Funds Therefore".

Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan says that "passing the resolution will help boost initiatives of Japanese legislators seeking to pass a bill entitled Promotion of Resolution for Issues Concerning Victims of Wartime Sexual Coercion Act. The bill was introduced last June 9, 2004 to the House of Councilors in Japan, jointly by the Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party, and by independent senators."

Please join babae, FiRE, and Pinay in a nationally coordinated campaign to seek justice for the comfort women and to demand that the Government of the Philippines must not turn their backs on the heinous crimes of sexual violence afflicted upon their own citizens. As Filipinas who uphold the rights and welfare of women all over the world, we are united that the fight for justice goes beyond just an apology and acknowledgement in text books. We must continue to put an end to all wars of aggression and pressure the US backed Arroyo regime to send all US troops out of the Philippines.

Events and actions spanning 3 cities nationwide will take place this week as a continuation of the Global Action Day Demonstration on the issue of "comfort women" which began on August 15th. Please contact the organizations listed below for more information on how you may be involved in your local area.


San Francisco - babae
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Film showing about surviving comfort women of WWII
Doors open at 6:30pm
Filipino Community Center
35 San Juan Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94112
Light refreshments will be served, followed by an open discussion, and updates on the issue.
*this is a FREE event, but donations are kindly accepted!
Contact: Marisa Mariano - 415.333.6267

New York – FiRE (Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment)
Tuesday, August 21st 7-9 pm
Film showing and discussion
International Action Center (IAC)
55 West 17th Street between 5th and 6th Ave, 5th Floor
Take 4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R, W to 14th Street/Union Square
THIS EVENT IS FREE! Contributions welcomed!
Contact: Hanalei Ramos - 201.790.0995

Seattle - PINAY sa Seattle
Friday, August 24, 2007 6-9pm
Comfort Women Teach-In
Film Showing and Discussion in collaboration with Sahngnoksu
2100 Building
2100 24th Ave S
Community Room B
Seattle, WA
This is a FREE EVENT
Contact: Donna Denina - 206.438.3521