Theme: Human Rights in the Asia-Pacific
This event is sponsored by Vancouver School Board and BC ALPHA.
From the official website -
International Human Rights Day marks the anniversary of the Assembly's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The founding nations of the UN have focused on the promotion and protection of human rights in order to prevent the recurrence of the horrors that resulted from the Second World War. This International Human Rights Day Student Symposium has been organized to help students better understand and reflect on issues of human rights violations during the Asia-Pacific War (1931- 1945) and to make connections to present day local and global issues.
Date: December 10, 2009 (International Human Rights Day) &
December 11, 2009 (due to great interest from teachers, the program will repeat for a 2nd day)
Venue: Vancouver Board of Education, 1580 West Broadway, Vancouver
08:00 - 08:30
08:30 – 08:45
Welcoming by Angela Brown, Anti-Racism Consultant, VSB
Opening Address by Thekla Lit, President of BC ALPHA
08:45 – 09:30
Plenary 1: Backgrounder of Human Rights Violations in the Asia Pacific War - Prof. John Price, History Department of University of Victoria. Prof. Price was also served as a historian for the BC Ministry of Education developed teacher’s guide, “Human Rights in the Asia-Pacific 1931-1945: Social Responsibility and Global Citizenship"
9:30 – 10:20
Plenary 2: Survivors' Testimony – Miriam van Veen and Marius van Dijk van Nooten
The survivor testimony helps students to face the bitterest of truths, the most shattering of experiences, the pity and the terror of tragedy and to come forth a bit humbler, a bit more dedicated, a bit more compassionate about other people’s sufferings and hopefully a bit wiser than before.
Miriam van Veen was born to a missionary family on a small island off Celebes, now Sulawesi in Indonesia. In 1942, just before Miriam turned two, her family was put into many concentration camps in Sumatra by the Japanese Imperial Army. Her family was eventually reunited and moved to the Netherlands in 1946. There, she became a teacher, a principal and a registered nurse. In 1965, she immigrated to Canada and worked as a RN.
Marius van Dijk van Nooten was born in the Netherlands in 1930 and grew up in the Dutch East Indies. He was eleven when Japan invaded in 1942 and was put into many concentration camps. After the war, he returned to the Netherlands and joined the merchant marines. In 1954, he moved to Canada and became a sea captain.
Facilitator: James Knihniski, Southridge School, Surrey
James met with survivors of the Asian Holocaust and visited museums and historical sites related to the Asia-Pacific War during his visit to China in the summer of 2005. Since then, he has been inviting Canadian survivors of WWII in Asia to speak in his class so to facilitate his students’ understanding of this chapter of history.
10:20 – 10:40
Break (light refreshment provided)
10:40 – 12:10
Workshop Session 1
1. “Comfort Women” & Violence Against Women in War and Peace
From the video, “You can never forget, never…” – Her Stories produced by the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan in 2008, students will learn about the issue of “comfort women” in its totality by relating it to the structure of colonial, military, state, race, class and gender oppression. Since the 1990s, the unveiling “comfort women” issue has become the cutting edge of the global movement against violence against women in war and peace. In 2007, the Canadian House of Commons of Canada unanimously passed a resolution to support proper acknowledgment and justice for the “comfort women” victims. Similar parliamentary resolutions were also passed by other countries including US and the European Union.
Presenter: Greg van Vugt, Fraser Heights Secondary School, Surrey
During the summer of 2008, Greg visited China, Korea and the Philippines to meet with survivors who had been abducted as sexual slaves by the Japanese military during World War II in Asia.
2. Canadian Hong Kong veterans as POWs: Wounds and Closure
1,975 Canadian soldiers were sent to defend the British Colony of Hong Kong in 1941. 550 of them never returned home. In this workshop, students will make explicit connection of the Asia-Pacific War to Canada as they investigate the crimes against humanity committed against these Canadian prisoners of war and examine which international agreements were breached. The students will also consider ways to bring proper closure to the Canadian Hong Kong veterans and their families.
Presenter: Graeme Stacey, Kelowna Secondary School, Kelowna
Graeme has pioneered the inclusion of the Canadian Hong Kong veterans material in classrooms in B.C. He was invited by the BC Ministry of Education to become a writing team member of the Teacher’s Guide, “Human Rights in the Asia-Pacific 1931-1945: Social Responsibility and Global Citizenship” in which the lesson on the Hong Kong veterans is included. For many years Graeme has presented the Hong Kong veterans story at BC Provincial Studies workshops.
3. Dr. Josef Mengele’s & Dr. Shiro Ishii’s Human Experimentations & Biochemical Warfare - Role & Ethics of Medical Personnel and Scientists
This workshop will present a comparative historical and ethical study of human medical and biochemical warfare research conducted by Dr. Josef Mengele and Nazi scientists at Auschwitz and by Dr. Shiro Ishii and Imperial Japanese scientists in China.
Presenter: Dale Martelli, Vancouver Technical Secondary School, Vancouver
Dale visited the Unit 731 Museum in Harbin, in north eastern China, during the summer of 2008. Unit 731 was the biological and chemical warfare unit of the Imperial Japanese Army during 1932 – 1945. In collaboration with King David High School, students from Van Tech collaborated with students from King David High School on a comparative genocide project between Shoah and Asian Genocide. This project culminated in a presentation on Yom Ha’Shoah, the Jewish Holocaust Remembrance Day, in March 2009. He also attended the Yad Yashem International School for Holocaust Studies in Israel In the summer of 2009.
4. Rescuers and Global Citizenship in the Rape of Nanking
A group of over twenty foreigners (mostly American, but also some German, Danish, and Russian) established a neutral area in Nanking called the International Safety Zone to shelter Chinese refugees whose lives had been threatened by the invading Japanese soldiers. The committee members of the Safety Zone toiled to provide these refugees with basic needs, and more importantly, to protect them from atrocities; often risking their own lives. This workshop helps students to understand the spirit of global citizenship and the roles played by individuals in times of crisis: Perpetrator, Victim, Bystander, or Rescuer. Through an examination of individuals and events in the International Safety Zone, students will connect with history, develop an awareness of the personal strength and qualities demonstrated by the committee members, and investigate what can be learned from their courage.
Presenter: Derek Smith, Mount Boucherie Secondary School, West Kelowna
In the summer of 2008, Derek personally met with survivors of the Rape of Nanking and visited the Memorial Museum for the Victims of the Nanking Massacre. He also visited the former residence of John Rabe, now a Memorial Museum. Rabe was the Chair of the International Safety Zone in Nanking during the massacre. Derek and a colleague won the 2009 Kron Award for Excellence in Holocaust Education for a lesson that looked at the roles of Rescuers (including Rabe), both in historic and contemporary contexts.
5. Forgotten Holocaust – Atrocious Human Rights Violation and It’s Impact on Victims Now and Then
This workshop features the video documentary, Forgotten Holocaust which contains the stories of Nanking Massacre, “Comfort Station” and Forced Labour during the Asia-Pacific War. Through examples in the documentary, presenters will help students to examine immediate and lingering impacts of atrocious human rights violations on victims.
Raymond Lemoine, Principal of Ecole des Pionniers, Port Coquitlam
Raymond is producer of the documentary, “Forgotten Holocaust” which was recorded during his participation in the Peace & Reconciliation Study Tour for Canadian Educators in 2006.
Karen Symonds, South Delta Secondary School, Delta
Karen was also a participant of the Peace & Reconciliation Study Tour for Canadian Educators in 2006 and contributed in the making of the documentary. Karen teaches Pre-AP English, History 12 and History Through Film 12 at South Delta Secondary School in Tsawwassen.
12:10 – 13:00
Lunch Break (free lunch bag provided)
13:00 – 14:30
Workshop Session 2
Repeat the workshops as listed in Workshop Session 1. Participants will attend a different workshop from the one they will have attended in the morning.
14:30 – 14:50
Closing Plenary: Towards Peace & Reconciliation – Endeavours of Human Right & Peace Activists in Japan – Satoko Norimatsu, Founder of Peace Philosophy Centre in Vancouver
14:50 - 15:00
Closing Remarks - Angela Brown, Anti-Racism Consultant, VSB & Thekla Lit, President of BC ALPHA
15:15– 17:00 (Attendance Optional)
Screening of Docudrama, Iris Chang - The Rape of Nanking, co-directed by Anne Pick & Bill Spahic
Iris Chang - The Rape of Nanking is a moving and powerful film on the story of Iris Chang who almost single-handedly brought this forgotten Holocaust in Asia during WWII to the awareness of the western world. Her book, The Rape of Nanking - the Forgotten Holocaust of WWII made the best seller list of New York Times for over 5 months when it was published in 1997. Until her untimely death in 2004, Iris had continued to be voice for the voiceless victims, despite vicious vilifications from deniers. Iris’ legacy for us all is the ray of hope, justice and peace. This feature docudrama is produced by Real to Reel Productions based in Toronto.