On 22 and 25 September 2017, the HKHTC was delighted to co-organise two screenings and discussion event with the Amnesty International:
Watchers of the Sky (天空守望者) – Screening and Discussion with Simon Li, HKHTC Director of Education
Chinese accessible captions will be available. 電影提供中文通達字幕。
The post-screening discussion will be conducted in Cantonese. 座談會以廣東話進行。
About the film: Raphael Lemkin, a young Jewish lawyer from Poland, was forced to flee to the United States alone during the Holocaust, later learned that 49 members of his family were killed in Nazi concentration camps. Lemkin was a person who believed deeply in the rule of law. He created the term “genocide” and spent most of his life pushing the United Nations to create the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Lemkin also pushed to have some sort of enforcement mechanism in place, although he did not live to see the creation of what we now know of as the International Criminal Court. Lemkin passed away in New York City alone in 1959.
Watchers of The Sky interweaves the stories of four modern humanitarian advocates, including the last surviving prosecutor from Nuremberg, while exploring the long-forgotten story of Raphael Lemkin. For those who want to deepen their knowledge about the violent acts committed during World War II and modern International Criminal Law, you would not want to miss this film!
About the speaker: Simon Li is the Director of Education at the Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre. An award-winning former journalist in Canada, he was a Senior Lecturer and Visiting Educator at the Amsterdam-based Anne Frank House in Spring 2017.
關於講者: 李家豪現為香港猶太大屠殺及寬容中心總監 (教育)。李曾是加拿大獲獎記者和高級講師。在本年上旬，李擔任荷蘭阿姆斯特丹安妮之家 (Anne Frank House) 訪問學人。
As the world marks the 72nd anniversary of the A-bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Director of Education Simon K. Li interviewed with Mr Kim, a 91-year-old Korean victim of atomic bombs, in Seoul, along with other elderly atomic bomb victims whose tragic stories have now been almost forgotten.
On the eve of the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Director of Education Simon Li met with Mr Sim Jintae, the Director of the Korean Atomic Bomb Victims Association in South Korea. Mr Sim was a baby at the time when the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Thousands of Koreans who survived the U.S. atomic bombings of Japan in the final days of WWII have struggled for decades with debilitating illness, poverty and discrimination with little help coming from Tokyo or Seoul.
Mr Li and Mr Sim discussed the association’s journey of struggles and its mission, as well as the experiences of some Korean Hiroshima victims who were in Japan as forced labour or had left Korea voluntarily to escape poverty. When these survivors returned to a divided Korea after Japan’s defeat, they were shunned out of fear of radiation poisoning-related illnesses while many struggled for decades due to ill health and mounting medical expenses. According to Mr Sim, there were about 70,000 Korean victims in total at Nagasaki and Hiroshima, with 40,000 dying in the blasts or shortly after. Japanese data shows slightly smaller numbers.
In summer 2017, Director of Education Simon Li visited the UNESCO’s Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU) in South Korea. Mr Li met with Ms Anna Chung, the APCEIU’s Head of External Relations, and her team. They had a very meaningful discussion on global citizenship education and Holocaust education in East Asia.
APCEIU is a UNESCO Category 2 Centre established in 2000 by the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Korea and UNESCO in order to promote and develop Education for International Understanding (EIU) and Global Citizenship Education (GCED) with UNESCO member states. GCED aims to empower learners to assume active roles to face and resolve global challenges and to become proactive contributors to a more just, peaceful, tolerant, inclusive and sustainable world.
HKHTC Director of Education Simon Li met with Mr Kang Sungho, Secretary-General of the History NGO Forum for Peace in East Asia, which recently organized the 7th International NGO Conference on History and Peace (in collaboration with the Northeast Asian History Foundation) at Korea University. Mr Kang and Mr Li had an in-depth discussion in Seoul which focused on teaching for peace as well as historical justice and the way it is perceived in East Asia.
HKHTC Director of Education Simon K. Li met with Professor Lee (李聖順所長), Director of the Korea Chongshindae’s Institute, in Gyeonggi-do. The two researchers discussed the history of Korean women drafted for military sexual slavery by the Japanese during World War II. It is estimated that 50,000 to 300,000 Korean women were forced to become military sex slaves during the war. Since 1990, when the institute was founded, and Kim Hak-soon and Moon Ok-ju’s public statements were made in 1991, more former Korean comfort women survivors have since come forward or signed up as comfort women victims.
Korea Chongshindae’s Institute is the only research institute in Korea which aims at research on the Chongshindae issues. Since its establishment in July 1990, the institute’s voluntary research staff have been devoted to disclosing the truth about the Chongshindae, which, for half a century after WWII, had been neglected.
This July, one of the few remaining Korean comfort women survivors Ms Kim gun-ja passed away shortly before HKHTC Director of Education Simon Li arrived in Seoul. Mr Li was invited to attend her memorial services and he also talked to former comfort woman Ms Lee Yong-su, a close friend of Ms Kim, after the funeral.
“I lived a hellish existence at the comfort station, facing an average of 20 Japanese soldiers every day, and sometimes as many as 40. I came to the US because I needed to hear an apology from Japan before I died… We want them to understand that there is a price to pay for the human rights violations and war crimes they committed.” Kim Gun-ja testified to the horrors of her experience of being a Japanese military comfort woman at a Feb. 2007 hearing on the issue before the US House of Representatives. Ms Kim is the third comfort woman survivor to pass away in South Korea this year. The number of survivors has now dwindled to 37 of the 239 registered with the South Korean government. Our Director of Education was at the site of commemoration in Seoul (video in Cantonese):
This July, Director of Education Simon K. Li visited the Museum of Sexual Slavery by Japanese Military and met with Mr Jeong Ho-cheol of its International Outreach Team. They had an in-depth discussion on the “comfort women” issue in Korea. Today, there are only 37 “comfort women” survivors alive in South Korea. The quote in the above photo is from the very first Korean “comfort woman” survivor who came out and spoke up for justice.
The Museum of Sexual Slavery by Japanese Military is an affiliate of the House of Sharing, which is home to the living “comfort women” survivors in Korea. It is devoted to reflecting the true history of “comfort women” during World War II in Asia. It is remarkable that the museum reconstructed a “comfort women” house in its exhibition. To listen to Mr Li’s explanation of how the setting of rooms in “comfort women” houses looks like, please click the links below for more information:
Mr Don Tow, President of the New Jersey-Alliance for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia, visited our Director of Education’s office on July 11, 2017. Mr Tow and Mr Simon Li had exchanged different ideas on pedagogies of teaching the Second World War history in Asia and the educational tour that NJ-ALPHA organised.
In South Korea, the co-director of the War & Women’s Human Rights Museum Ms Mee-hyang Yoon and HKHTC Director of Education Simon Li met to exchange ideas on how South Korea and Hong Kong teach our students about the wartime history of sex slaves. The War and Women’s Human Rights Museum is an open space to remember comfort women’s history, to educate students as well as the public, and to tackle the Japanese military sexual slavery issue. It is also an active museum that attempts to make the world a place without war and violence against women by collaborating in solidarity with other organisations.