On July 25, 2012, Korean American Civic Empowerment (KACE) conducted the 5th Anniversary of the Comfort Women Resolution (H.Res.121 of 2007), which was supported by the member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California's 15th district, Michael Makoto "Mike" Honda. On this event, Comfort women survivors, Yong Soo Lee and Bok Dong Kim, KACE interns and staffs, Korean American Community Leader around the United States, Asian and American society civic organization leaders, and embassys attended this event. On this ceremony, reporters from United States and Korea actively showed their fervent interest, especially Mike Honda, Ileana Ros, Bill Pascrell, Al Green, and Joe Beca who attended this event. 
 
The following is the speech of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the chairman of the United States House Comittee on Foreign Affairs. 
 

Reception celebrating the 5th Anniversary of the Comfort Women Resolution (H.Res.121 of 2007) of the U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, Room HVC-215, at 5 – 6:30 PM

Tuesday, July 24, 2012.

 

Mr. Dongsuk (DONG-SUCK) Kim, Steering Committee Chair, Korean American Civic Empowerment, K-A-C-E President. Dong Chan (DONG-CHAN) Kim, Members of the Korean-American community, supporters of women's rights and human rights, ladies and gentlemen

This month marks the fifth anniversary of the passage of House Resolution 121 which is most commonly referred to as "the comfort women" resolution.

I, as a supporter of women's rights, was a co-sponsor of this resolution.

The passage of this resolution marked a red-letter day for the Korean-American community.

Korean-American citizens gained the support of their elected representatives to address a long-standing grievance still festering from the Second World War. 

The American people, in general, seem more aware of the World War II crimes against humanity that occurred in the Europe rather than those committed in Asia, despite the fact that America's war began at Pearl Harbor in the Pacific.

It was left to Korean-Americans, therefore, to raise the consciousness of their fellow citizens in focusing on what the resolution referred to as(QUOTE) "the sexual enslavement" (UNQUOTE)of young women.

However, it is important to recall that those enslaved as comfort women were not solely from the Korean peninsula, although the great majority came from there.

There were also young women taken from Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Dutch community then living in Southeast Asia.

So other communities joined with the Korean-American community to advance this historic resolution.

For example, one of my own constituents, Professor Evelina Galang of the University of Miami, a Filipina-American, was very active in seeking passage of House Resolution 121.

Those of us who have championed justice for Holocaust survivors know too well that the deniers of historic atrocities from the Second World War still seek to silence the voices of those calling for justice.

This has sadly been true in the Pacific as well as the Atlantic.

The historic passage of this resolution, however,is meant in no way to cast aspersions on the United States' close and trusted ally, Japan.

But as Holocaust survivor and our former Committee Chairman, the late Tom Lantos,observed, in discussing the Comfort Women resolution in Committee:  (QUOTE) "This is not an inter-country dispute. It is a fundamental issue of human rights (UNQUOTE).

The sexual enslavement of young girls and women in combat situations is, sadly, not just a historic issue.

In the nineteen nineties the world witnessed atrocities involving gang rapes in Bosnia.

And even this year the Foreign Affairs Committee has received credible reports from refugees of the use of mass rape as a battlefield tactic by the Burmese junta directed against women of the Kachin (KAH-CHIN) minority, including grandmothers.

So this fundamental issue of women’s rights remains as relevant today as it did more than six decades ago.

One can even speculate whether the term "comfort women" fully conveys the horror of enforced sexual slavery imposed on these young girls and women.

 

 

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