Monday, July 13, 2009

Create a Butterfly for Justice

"In th
e run-up to the August anniversary of the end of World War II, Amnesty International is calling for justice for former 'comfort women' in Japan.

During the war, up to 200,000 women and girls were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military. These women and girls were kept in 'comfort stations' in China, Taiwan, Borneo, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), Indonesia and many of the Pacific Islands.

Women were abducted, deceived or sold by extremely poor parents. The majority of woman were under the age of 20 and some were girls as young as 12. These women and girls were kept for months or years on end.

The women who made it home at the end of the war often kept silent about their experiences and suffered severe psychological and emotional trauma. Many survivors died without talking about what happened to them. In recent years, however, a number of women, now very elderly, have courageously been speaking out. They hope that justice can still be achieved in their lifetime.

The Japanese Government's apologies so far have been inadequate and the government has refused to accept any legal responsibility. Over the past few years there has been growing international pressure on the Japanese Government to accept responsibility and apologise for the abuses of 'comfort women'.

Sixty years on, this lack of justice for 'comfort women' is a human rights abuse. Given the age of the survivors, there is an urgent need to act on this issue. We must never forget the atrocities committed against these women. Japan still has the opportunity to right this terrible wrong.

Amnesty International is calling on the Australian Government to pass a motion in the House of Representatives urging the Government of Japan to:

  • Accept full responsibility for the abuses of 'comfort women'
  • Officially apologise for the crimes committed against the women
  • Provide adequate compensation to 'comfort women' or their immediate families
  • Accurately describe the sexual slavery system in Japanese textbooks on World War II

Since 2007, the US, the Netherlands, the UK, Canada, the European Union (with 27 member countries), South Korea, Taiwan and three city councils in Japan have all passed similar motions. It's time for Australia to do the same."

The survivors have chosen the butterfly as their symbol of hope.

You can help by creating your own unique butterfly. Each one is sent to the Prime Minister of Australia. By uploading your butterfly as your avatar on social networks like Twitter, Facebook and MySpace you can help raise awareness.

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