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International Memorial Day for the “Comfort Women”

Message from Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC associate general secretary to the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan - War & Women's Human Rights Museum on International Memorial Day for the “Comfort Women”.

14 August 2014

Message to the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan - War & Women's Human Rights Museum on International Memorial Day for the “Comfort Women”:

Dear sisters,

I write to greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Justice and Peace on the occasion of the second International Memorial Day for the “Comfort Women” observed in solidarity with our sisters who broke the silence of being subjected to one of the worst dehumanizations in the human history. Together with you we wait to walk towards justice and peace in the face of denied justice to our sisters, many of whom have now departed from this world without experiencing any justice from the Japanese government.

The World Council of Churches has always stood in solidarity with you since our sister Kim Hak-sun broke the silence in 1991 around the injustice suffered by “comfort women”. Our solidarity has taken a different meaning since 18 June when our South Korean sister, 86-years-old Gil Won Ok, a survivor “comfort woman” and representatives of the organization Korean Comfort Women, paid a visit to the WCC offices in Geneva. Her message to us was clear and simple: “Please make a peaceful world, and a world without war. Thus, I wish that there are no more people who suffered like me”.

The cause of the “comfort women” has a face of our sister, Kim Hak-sun which reminds us that the girls who were abducted, trafficked or brought to the Japanese soldiers' camps had their own dreams and visions for the future. Their vision was shattered and their bodies were damaged in circumstances of utter injustice. Yet in the last 13 years when the world came into a shocking revelation of such crimes against humanity, the WCC has kept on mobilizing the WCC member churches to demand justice and peace for these victims of sexual slavery.

Sisters, I stand with you in solidarity as we continue to demand that justice be done. We call on the churches in Japan, on the Korean Peninsula and in the rest of the world to appeal to the Japanese government especially through our sisters and brothers in Japan - so that an apology can be made to the “comfort women” and that reparations is made to the sisters who have experienced this dehumanization through abuse and sexual slavery during the World War II.

May our God of Life who walks with us on this pilgrimage of justice and peace grant that victims experience justice, despite that it has been delayed for so long.

In the name of Jesus the Prince of Peace,

Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri
Associate general secretary for Public Witness and Diakonia