Event news: Live Statue protest in support of “Comfort Women”

Timed to be close to International Women’s Day, there will be a “live statue” protest outside Tate Modern this Saturday, promoted by Justice for Comfort Women UK. Here is there official press release.

Justice for ‘Comfort Women’ UK ‘Live Statue’ event in London

  • Saturday 5 March 2016 12:00 – 16:00
  • Outside Tate Modern
  • To publicise the issue of ‘Comfort Women’ – the military sexual slavery of at least 200,000 women and girls by the Japanese Imperial Army during WW2

This event is publicise the issue of ‘Comfort Women’ – the military sexual slavery of at least 200,000 women and girls by the Japanese Imperial Army from the early 1940s until the end of WW2 in 1945. The small number of known elderly survivors, mostly Korean, are still fighting for justice 70 years later.

A ‘final’ agreement announced by South Korean and Japanese governments on December 28th 2015 did not consult any surviving victim or any representative NGO. It has been rejected by Korean survivors as ‘a betrayal’, made for diplomatic expediency. Survivors in other countries where women were enslaved, for example China.

Despite Japan’s ‘sincere apology’, Shinzo Abe’s government continues to deny the historicity of the ‘comfort women’ system, branding the women as volunteers. This has strengthened calls to annul the December 28th agreement, made farcical by subsequent offensive remarks made by Japanese government ministers at the UN; the moral equivalent of holocaust deniers.

The statue in Seoul

Comfort Woman statue in Seoul

The ‘Comfort Woman’ bronze statue in Seoul, situated on private land opposite the Japanese Embassy in 2011, represents the figure of a young girl in traditional Korean dress of the 1930s. Victims were often teenagers as young as 14 years when abducted or coerced into sexual slavery. It was erected to mark the 1,000th Wednesday protest in Seoul, now in its 25th year. It has become a much loved icon for elderly survivors and the South Korean public.

Symbolism

Much to the astonishment of the Korean Public, President Park Geun-Hye’s government agreed to seeking its removal as a condition of the South Korea-Japan agreement of Dec 28 2015. Its presence near the Japanese embassy has been a source of annoyance for some Japanese politicians and ultra-nationalists. Removal of the statue will in fact present Park Geun Hye with a major headache since it was erected through private donations and is situated on private land. Its popularity ensures that it could not be removed without substantial police brutality, such is the determination of its supporters. Korean university students have for several weeks staged round the clock vigils, sleeping rough in the coldest winter for 32 years, to protect the statue from any government attempt of removal.

The Statue Under Threat

Much to the astonishment of the Korean Public, President Park Geun Hye’s government agreed to seeking its removal as a condition of the South Korea-Japan agreement of Dec 28 2015. Its presence near the Japanese embassy has been a source of annoyance for some Japanese politicians and ultra-nationalists. Removal of the statue will in fact present Park Geun Hye with a major headache since it was erected through private donations and is situated on private land. Its popularity ensures that it could not be removed without substantial police brutality, such is the determination of its supporters. Korean university students have for several weeks staged round the clock vigils, sleeping rough in the coldest winter for 32 years, to protect the statue from any government attempt of removal.

The Statue Event in London

Live statue

The ‘live statue’, using reproduction 1930s Korean dress was used in Justice For Comfort Women UK’s recent demonstrations at The Japanese Embassy, and outside Westminster Central Hall during the visit from UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon. The event on Saturday 5th March is intended as a visually appealing way to inform Londoners and visitors about this historic crime against women, and the ongoing fight for justice. It is hoped many will have their photo taken with the ‘statue’ and images will be used across social media to raise awareness. An outdoor picnic will also be held, subject to weather conditions, so the event is envisaged less of a protest than an enjoyable but meaningful engagement with the public.

Links:

(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.

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