Parliament Video: Jenny Kwan raises the issue of commemorating the Nanjing Massacre in the House

On April 10, 2019, Jenny rose in the House to speak once more as to why it would be important to establish December 13th as a commemorative day to remember the victims of the Nanjing Massacre:

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

"Madam Speaker, this year is the 82nd anniversary of the Nanjing massacre. On November 30, 2017, I asked the Prime Minister if he would set December 13 as Nanjing massacre commemorative day to mark the 80th anniversary of the horrific events.

Since then, with the support of diverse community leaders, I have campaigned for an entire year, raising awareness and collecting signatures to support this endeavour. Over the course of the year, we collected tens of thousands of signatures from Canadian citizens and residents. The petitioners called for the government to declare December 13 each year as Nanjing massacre commemorative day.

The commemoration of the Nanjing massacre is about the formal recognition of atrocities, learning from history and paying tribute to those impacted. If we can learn from history and commit ourselves to preventing it from happening again, humanity benefits.

The treatment of Yazidi women in northern Iraq shows that large-scale, systemic sexual violence continues to be used as a tactic to assert power and dominance, to dehumanize people and to attack their identity. We must recognize these atrocities now and act to end those that are currently under way.

It is estimated that as many as 300,000 people were killed in the Nanjing massacre. Another 200,000 women and girls from Korea, China, Japan, Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines and other occupied territories in Asia were tricked, kidnapped or coerced by the Imperial Japanese Army into sexual slavery, serving as comfort women.

Currently, the UN recognizes 19 countries in conflict where sexual violence is used as a weapon of war. Canada has a rich humanitarian tradition of advocating for peace and recognizing global atrocities, in which women and children are often brutal casualties of war and armed conflicts.

That is why I moved a unanimous-consent motion on November 28, 2018, to declare December 13 every year as Nanjing massacre commemorative day.

Order of Canada recipient, Joy Kogawa, said to the importance of this motion:

In an age of increasing xenophobia and historical revisionism, when even the victims of the Holocaust can once more be openly mocked, [the member for Vancouver East's] motion assumes a new urgency to align ourselves with the world’s historians and to guard against revisionists, equivocators and deniers of history who attempt to falsify and sanitize the past. Our humanity depends on recognizing our capacity for barbarity.

It was extremely disappointing that the motion failed. Back on November 30, 2017, I asked if the government would proclaim December 13 as Nanjing massacre commemorative day. I received an encouraging answer from the former minister of Canadian heritage, as she offered to work with me to achieve this goal.

I followed up with the minister and she informed me that the issue falls in the jurisdiction of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. I then wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who asked me to work with her chief of staff. Subsequently, I was advised that in fact the matter should be dealt with by the minister of heritage. I then went back to the former minister of heritage, at which point she advised that it would not be possible to have the declaration made by December 13, 2017.

Even though the window had closed for 2017, I campaigned for a full year, speaking with countless Canadians face to face across the country, and finally collecting tens of thousands of signatures, which I brought to the House on November 28, 2018. Needless to say, I was deeply disappointed that my unanimous-consent motion failed.

While the message I received from the Liberal government had been positive, when it came down to the vote, I was taken aback to learn that the Liberal MPs actually voted against the motion. When I moved the motion for the first time, the motion did not pass, and the Speaker at the time, in an unprecedented way, noted that the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan voted against it.

However, at the end of the day, the government members also did not vote for this motion."

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