Peace Girl Statue in Berlin
On September 28, the Peace Girl statue was unveiled in Berlin.
A day after the unveiling, the Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato expressed a strong interest in the removal of the statue.” On October 2, Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Motegi Toshimitsu requested German Foreign Minister Heiko Josef Maas to remove the Peace Girl statue. Then on October 7, Korea Verband, the Berlin-based civic group that spearheaded the statue installation in Berlin, received an order from the office of Berlin’s Mitte district to remove the statue by October 14. In response, the Korea Verband and its supporters filed for an injunction. On October 11, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and his wife sent an open letter to Mayor Stephan von Dassel, denouncing the district office’s decision. Immediately after the removal order was released, the Korea Verband and the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (Korean Council) that funded this installation began the petitions against the removal order.
In addition to these petitions, in Japan, more than 2,000 people and 120 organizations signed a statement written by the Japan Nationwide Action for Resolution of the Japanese Military’s “Comfort Women” (Japan Nationwide) within a week. The statement was sent to the office of Berlin's Mitte district. The Korean Council wrote letters to the Mitte district and the U.N. ESJF joined this effort by sending letters to the office of Mitte district on October 11 and a U.N. special rapporteur on October 13.
On October 13, around 300 activists and citizens held a demonstration in Berlin protesting against the statue removal order. Stephan von Dassel, mayor of the Mitte district, came to the demonstration and announced the district’s decision to pause the statue removal order. He added that the district authorities want to solve the issue through dialogue. For more information, click here.
On October 14, in Seoul (October 13th in California), Yong-Soo “Grandma” Lee, a victim of Japanese military sexual slavery, held a press conference with Na-Young Lee, Chair of the Board of the Korean Council, and Ki-Dae Yang, a South Korean National Assembly member, urging the Mitte district to withdraw the removal order. “Grandma” Lee then visited the German Embassy in Seoul to deliver her handwritten letter. I'll keep you posted on the development.
If you haven’t done so already, please consider continuing to sign the petitions, which more than 10,000 people worldwide have signed thus far.
Korean Council's petition (written by Ah-Hyun Angela Lee): https://www.petitionen.com/petition_gegen_die_entfernung_der_friedensstaue_in_berlin
Korea Verband's petition: http://trostfrauen.de/offener-brief-friedensstatue/
The outdoor exhibition, Alight, was held in Seoul, Korea. It displayed photos of the victims of Japanese military sexual slavery and activists who are committed to bringing justice to the victims and their sidelined history. The photos of activists and educators from Nikkei for Civil Rights and Resolution, Progressive Asian Network for Action, and ESJF were part of the exhibition. Ara Oshagan, a photographer and installation artist based in Glendale, photographed several victims and the members of the abovementioned organizations in California.
Installation video: https://youtu.be/xF2mychK3Cw