Saturday, April 02, 2016

More Graves than Lives

I just finished up an interview on the issue of war reparations for Chamorros. This past week a group of politicians, who are part of the non-profit group Guam World War II Reparations Advocates announced their intent to file a lawsuit against the US government on behalf of Chamorros who endured Japanese occupation from 1941-1944 and who waiting for some form of compensation for close to 30 years. I've included an article on the lawsuit below from The Guam Daily Post. I also wanted to share a quote from my interview, in which I responded personally to what I felt about the possibility of reparations being granted today. Gof annok gi ineppe'-ku i minala'et-hu. Fihu iyo-ku grandfather ha faisen yu' put este na asunto, ya kao sina mohon ma risibi este na salape' para i pinadesen gera. Lalalo' yu' sa' matai i nanan biha-hu tres anos tatte na tiempo ya matai si grandpa gi ma'pos na sakkan. Anggen un diha ma na'i i taotao-ta este, hafa i bali-na anggen i meggina na manamko' hagas matai? Ya ti ma li'e' ayu?

Here again is my quote:

On the matter of reparations, even if they are provided, they will always be tainted by the amount of time that it took to secure them. Whether the blame lies with leaders in Guam or in Washington D.C., it does not change the fact that the majority of those who suffered in the war, they and their families will receive nothing. If it is every secured, it would be the hollowest of victories, something for honoring graves, rather than lives. In the war, we were victims caught between the clashes or empires, fighting over our lands, but never truly caring about our people. Should war reparations ever arrive, it would only reinforce that idea, albeit in a contemporary context.

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Advocates to file suit against US government for Guam's WWII survivors
Post News Staff
Guam Daily Post
March 28, 2016

Advocates for wartime reparations to Guam’s World War II survivors announced this morning that they are filing a lawsuit against the U.S. government to secure payments for victims.
“We’re losing members of our island’s greatest generation on an almost daily basis,” said Senator Frank F. Blas, Jr. in a press conference to announce the endeavour. “So instead of continuing to hope that the United States government will one day recognize the pain and suffering they endured during WWII, we have collectively decided to sue the federal government for the reparations that they truly deserve.”
The advocates, who are in the final stages of forming as a non-profit organization to be known as the Guam World War II Reparations Advocates, Inc., argue that the Obama administration’s recent moves to provide reparations to Holocaust survivors, Americans held hostage in Iran in 1979, and the president’s urging and role with Japan and South Korea’s reconciliation with regard to their long-standing WWII comfort women issue have negated the concern of certain member of Congress who have said that providing  reparations to Guam would set a precedent for other groups to follow.
“So if the concern is precedence setting, it's already been done,” said Senator Jim Espaldon.
The initial directors of the organization are Senator Blas, Senator Espaldon, former Governor Ada, former Speaker San Agustin, Vice Speaker Cruz, Senator Muna Barnes, and former Assistant Secretary Babauta. The attorneys representing the group in the impending suit are Washington, D.C.-based Attorneys Mauricio J. Tamargo, Jason Poblete, and Jeremy G. Ibrahim. The suit will be filed in Washington, D.C., and all court costs, attorneys fees and all other related expenses will be privately funded through donations and fundraising events.
“Guam’s Man’amko endured the greatest suffering during our island’s occupation by Japanese forces in World War II,” said Former Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta. “Their painful stories are remembered by their families and our people just as much as our island remembers that they were never made whole by the United States as others were after World War II.”

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