A home at last: Atlanta ‘Comfort Women’ statue is welcome in Brookhaven

By Maria Saporta

The Atlanta Comfort Women have found a home – Brookhaven.

A statue of a young girl sitting in a chair originally was supposed to have been anchored at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. The memorial was an artistic depiction to shine the light on human sex trafficking.

But earlier this year, the Center reversed its decision to host the statue after getting pressure from business and international leaders.

So the Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force, which had already commissioned the statue, had to find a new location.

comfort women

Memorial Statue that had been proposed for the Center for Civil and Human Rights (Special: Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force)

A unanimous vote by the Brookhaven City Council at its meeting on May 23 welcomed the “Young Girl’s Statue for Peace,” a memorial that honors the 200,000 girls and women – called the “comfort women” – who were sexually enslaved throughout Asia during World War II by the Japanese Imperial Army.

“The Comfort Women tragedy is one the largest known cases of human and sexual trafficking in the 20th century. International human rights tribunals, United Nations groups and rapporteurs have all affirmed the history of the Comfort Women and that their fundamental human rights were violated,” said John Park, a Brookhaven City Councilman, in a statement.

“I know I speak for the City Council, when I say the City of Brookhaven is deeply honored to be the home for the Young Girl’s Statue for Peace,” Park continued. “As we remember the history of these victims of human trafficking and enslavement, we bear witness to their suffering so that these atrocities never happen again.”

Park first championed the idea of welcoming the Comfort Women Memorial in Brookhaven and quickly Mayor John Ernst and each City Council member enthusiastically agreed on the importance of having such a remembrance on Brookhaven.

“By establishing this memorial, we are raising awareness of the ongoing problems of sexual and human trafficking taking place in metro Atlanta and the world today,” Ernst said. “The City of Brookhaven is proud to join the growing list of progressive cities around the world that have already installed memorials in recognition of Comfort Women and their suffering. Brookhaven is now the first city in the state of Georgia and the deep south to publicly commit to the Comfort Women memorial, and we encourage other cities to join us in a strong, public stand against human trafficking.”

comfort women task force

A photo of the Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force, which was committed to find a permanent place for the statue (Special: Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force)

Tim Echols, a Georgia Public Service Commissioner who is the Statewide Advisor to the Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force, said Brookhaven has led the state in the fight against sex trafficking.

“The history of the comfort women will help raise awareness and remind our community how prolific trafficking has been throughout the world,” Echols said.

Brookhaven is a diverse community where about one-fourth of its residents are foreign born.

Brookhaven also was also the first city to join “We’re Not Buying It,” a national initiative to create a forum for all 50 states to collaborate and develop strategies to finally put an end to sex trafficking in the United States.

The specific site is still being determined, and it will be announced at a later date. The City plans to host an unveiling ceremony later this summer. The Task Force will also organize an educational event on the history of the Comfort Women and the connections with other local and international cases of sex trafficking.

“We are grateful for the courage, passion and commitment of the city officials of Brookhaven,” said Baik Kyu Kim, chairman of the Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force. “It is our hope that this beautiful statue will bring much healing, peace and hope.”

Other U.S. cities that have established Comfort Women memorials include Palisades Park, New Jersey; Nassau, New York (2 memorials); Bergen City, New Jersey; Glendale, California; Southfield, Michigan; Fairfax, Virginia; Union City, New Jersey; San Francisco, CA; with efforts currently underway in Chicago.

The Atlanta Task Force is comprised of Americans of Anglo-European, Australian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Nepali, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese descent.

The Brookhaven statue will join a total of 54 municipalities around the world that honors the “comfort women and girls” through the installation of a permanent memorial.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

9 replies
  1. Sheila Fuhrmann says:

    Remembering the history of one group does not negate the remembering of another. We need to know about the history like this so we can make sure it never happens again. While I did know about the camps here in the states but only through things I saw on TV as I was not alive then . I knew nothing about these women. We all need to learn about atrocities of all kinds so we can work to see they never happen again. To anyone.Report

    Reply
  2. Hide Morya says:

    Multi ethnics and multi racial are living together that is America,isn’t it? Disgracing one particular ethnic is inappropriate and in fact the statue causes bullying Japanese kids in Glendale, California.Report

    Reply
  3. Yoshiaki Terada says:

    As an American mercenary, the Korean army participated in the Vietnam War.
    And they raped from children to old people.
    And they massacred them.
    Other atrocities.
    “Looting” “kidnapping” “torture” “arson” “murder” “assault”
    Some villages killed all the inhabitants by the Korean army.
    (From the fetus to the old man)
    Park Geun-hye (former President) and the Korean Army Commander insisted on it as “a legitimate war act”.
    Vietnamese citizens built monuments to remember the atrocities of Koreans by many of the victims that were killed by the Korean armies.

    President Lee Myung-bak built a theme park to praise the Korean army of the Vietnam War. (2013)Report

    Reply
  4. Yoshiaki Terada says:

    The Korean Peninsula until 1895 is a slave country of China.
    According to Article 1 of the Shimonoseki treaty by the Sino-Japanese War, Korea became independent from China.
    By Japan, over 700 years of slave nation has ended.

    In the past Korea, there was an obligation to supply sex slaves to China every year.
    And the Korean dynasty built a school requesting a woman for that.
    The school lasted until the 1980s.

    Korean women of the 19th century have no personal name.
    Because women in Korean society are slaves.
    Therefore, the queen also had no name.

    Korean women got personal names in the Japanese era since 1910.Report

    Reply
  5. Yoshiaki Terada says:

    It was for the creation of a family register.
    Korean family registry was also there, but there is no female name.
    It is only “the daughter of whom”.

    Korean traditional society is strict discrimination.
    It is a felony that your subordinate opposes his / her boss.

    It is the same in the family.
    younger brother should not argue against his brother.
    brother should not argue against his father.
    daughter must obey her father and brothers.Report

    Reply
  6. Yoshiaki Terada says:

    Japan banned some Korean traditional culture.
    “Disease Dance” “Stone War” “Uterine Test”
    “Uterine test” is an act of a father raping his daughter, a father making her daughter pregnant.
    And, her daughter ‘s father appeals to neighbors.
    “In this way, my daughter can give birth to a healthy child.
    Someone please, please my lucky daughter as your wife ‘

    “Disease dance” is a dance that mocks smart people & mentally handicapped & leprosy patients.
    At a Korean school, “disease dance” is educated for children as “a wonderful Korean traditional performing art”.Report

    Reply
  7. Yoshiaki Terada says:

    The other day, the parliamentary chairman of Korea requested Abe.
    “For the Japanese military Korean volunteers who punished the Allied forces as B & C class war criminals, Japan should compensate for damages.
    If Japan did not surrender, they should not have been punished as criminals! ”

    B / C class war criminal charges.
    “Rape” “robbery” “murder” “torture” “kidnapping” “assault” etc.
    In response to such criminal acts by soldiers, the Japanese army had always disposed of those subjects.

    However, the Korean government refuses to apologize and compensate as a “legitimate war act” for the atrocities committed by the Korean army to citizens of Vietnam.Report

    Reply
  8. Yoshiaki Terada says:

    Furthermore.
    It is the Korean parliamentarians who requested the Japanese government to hire Korean applicants as soldiers.

    At that time, Japan employed only the excellent Koreans as an officer of the Japanese army.
    Among them were President Park Chung-hee (the father of President Park Geun) and commander of the South and North Korea Air Force.
    Park Chung – hee made a comfort women system for the American army.
    (Women for that were secured by fraud and kidnapping by Koreans)

    The commanders who ordered atrocities against Vietnamese citizens to Korean soldiers are these people.
    “All Doo Hwa” “Roh Tae-hyeon” “Kim Young-san”
    They took office as South Korea President.Report

    Reply

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