“Three, two, one…,” with this countdown, the plaque of the Ama Museum was unveiled by eight people, including President Ying-Jeou Ma, leaders of Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation (TWRF), and comfort woman Lien-Hwa Ahma. This public debut of the plaque, made with pure copper, signifies that TWRF has carried out the promise to build a permanent home for “comfort women.”
Shu-ling Huang, Chairwoman of TWRF, said that it was a meaningful day in the history of women’s rights movements in Taiwan. Over the past two decades, the foundation has hosted numerous exhibits regarding “comfort women” to promote awareness for the public. However, no permanent home for all of the historical documents and relics was established until March 8, 2016, International Women’s Day. The first museum dedicated to Taiwanese “comfort women” was established under the watch of victim Lien-Hwa Ahma and President Ma, who has long been an advocate in the human rights movement of “comfort women.” The museum also serves as a multifunctional unit to fight sexual violence and promote the empowerment of women. Huang expects future opportunities to collaborate with international museums and individuals to promote women’s rights.
President Ma, who is aware of all the challenges the foundation had faced in establishing the museum, said, “good things do not come without overcoming obstacles.” The plaque unveiling ceremony created a new chapter in the history of Taiwanese “comfort women.” Ma said that the goals of the Ama Museum are to preserve part of history and remind us not to forget the lessons that wars provided. The President again urged the Japanese government to apologize and compensate the comfort women.
Lien-Hwa Ahma, aged 92 and one of the three surviving comfort women in Taiwan, witnessed the historical moment at the ceremony. She waved at the crowd with a bashful smile and said, “I am not good at giving a speech. Thank you, everyone. Thank you, President.” The participants were touched by her presence and her words. When asked by reporters about the Japanese government’s handling of the issue of “comfort women,” Lien-Hwa Ahma expressed her worry of not being able to live until the day when Japan offers apologies and compensation.
Shu-Hua Kang, executive director of TWRF, spoke to the public at the ceremony about the future plan for the museum. She pointed out that the Ama Museum is not a place to store hatred, but a venue for history to be remembered. The museum has three core functions. First and foremost, the museum aims to preserve historical documents and relics regarding Taiwanese “comfort women,” and the permanent exhibit includes collections from the human rights movement, stories of victims, and related art work. Second, the foundation plans to connect the history of “comfort women” with current issues of women’s rights to promote mental and financial independence of victims of sexual violence. Lastly, the museum will promote human rights education and lead future generations to prevent violence. Hence, a part of the building is reserved as a venue for training workshops for women’s empowerment and human rights education. The foundation also plans to use the space to offer seminars and workshops on topics of sexual abuse, human rights education, career consultation and skill training.
TWRF showed a video during the ceremony calling for donations to help operate the Ama Museum. The foundation announced its debut fundraising campaign on the flyingV web site. For more than a decade, despite all the obstacles, the foundation never gave up in looking to secure a location for the museum. It was a race against time because most “comfort women” are deteriorating and many passed away. With much persistence, the foundation realized its dream of finding an everlasting home for history of “comfort women.” However, it is extremely difficult financially for a non-governmental organization to independently operate such a museum. The foundation estimates that it will cost about NT$20 million to operate the Ama Museum for the first two years. Public donations are needed to keep the museum up and running as a place where “comfort women” history is stored, victims of violence are supported, and human rights education is instilled. The Ama Museum needs your support and participation!Source: Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation