Osaka cuts ties with San Francisco over controversial statue
Osaka, Japan officially cut sister-city ties with San Francisco last week as tensions over a controversial statue boiled over. The statue depicts a Korean activist, Kim Hak-sun, gazing at women from the Philippines, Korea and China standing on a pedestal and holding hands. It commemorates the thousands of “comfort women” detained and raped by Japanese soldiers before and during World War II.
Last year, Osaka’s mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura declared the message of the statue one-sided and threatened to cut ties unless it was removed. Japanese officials have often fought the creation of statues or memorials commemorating women harmed by their occupation. They claim the information is disputed and bad for reconciliation, while critics say they’re trying to downplay a tragedy. San Francisco mayor London Breed said one mayor could not undo the ties that exist between her city and Osaka. She stated the statue would remain as “a symbol of the struggle faced by all women who have been, and are currently, forced to endure the horrors of enslavement and sex trafficking.”
Nobel Peace Prize awarded to campaigners against sexual violence
Last Friday, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to both a former IS captive and a Congolese gynecological surgeon in recognition of their efforts to stop the use of mass rape as a weapon of war. Both Nadia Murad, who was captured and forced into sexual slavery by IS, and Dr. Denis Mukwege, who has treated thousands of women in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, risk their lives to campaign against sexual violence.
IS kidnapped Murad and thousands of other Yazidi women in northern Iraq in 2014. When their town was captured, the men and boys were executed while the women and girls were sold into slavery. Murad suffered at the hands of an IS judge and his bodyguards before eventually escaping. Unlike many other escapees, Murad made her name public and sought to inform the world of her and others’ plight.
Dr. Mukwege has worked for years to aid villagers preyed upon by militias, government soldiers, bandits and other abusers, often with little access to anesthetic and electricity. In his work, he recounts horrors done to the victims he’s seen around the world. Shortly after giving a speech to the United Nations in 2012, he survived an assassination attempt that involved four or five gunmen, his children taken as hostages and the death of his security guard in his home in the Congo. Speaking from a hospital in Bukavu, he accepted his award last Friday, dedicating it to “women of all countries bruised by conflict and facing everyday violence.”
Aid organizations forced to leave Pakistan
International NGOs must cease their operations and leave Pakistan within 60 days, the Pakistani government says. ActionAid, one of the organizations, claims the order was connected to a “worrying escalation of recent attacks on civil society” by the Pakistani government. ActionAid said in a statement that their appeals have been denied, as have other organizations’, with no reason given by the government. ActionAid was told it could re-apply for registration in six months. Pakistani officials often suspect NGOs of international espionage. In 2011, a fake vaccination program was revealed to be a cover for CIA agents to track Osama bin Laden. After attempting to ban NGOs in 2017, Pakistani officials bowed to Western pressure and allowed the organizations to stay and appeal against the decision. At least 18 aid organizations have now been banned from the country.