East Timor: 2 ex-sex slaves break silence at NGO tribunal
Dec. 10 2000
TOKYO Dec. 10 Kyodo - Two East Timorese women broke over half a century of silence Sunday and told of their ordeals as sex slaves of the Imperial Japanese Army at a mock tribunal to try the Japanese government over its responsibility for the recruitment of so-called ''comfort women'' before and during World War II.
Esmeralda Boe and Marta Abu Bore, both believed to be in their 70s, gave their first testimonies as wartime sex slaves on the third day of the Women's International War Crimes Tribunal in Tokyo.
They said they were too young to have started having periods when they were forced into sex slavery and that Japanese soldiers threatened to kill their parents if they were not handed over.
''I was too little and didn't know what was happening. I lost my virginity. During daytime, we engaged in forced labor on a farm and at night, soldiers called our name to rape us,'' Boe said.
''Some of the sex slaves were hanged, thrown into the river or even burned. Some were raped in the bush,'' she said.
Abu Bore said she was raped by 10 men on the first occasion. ''I was treated like an animal. After the rapes, I was bleeding and could not walk.''
The two said ordinary houses were converted into facilities euphemistically called ''comfort stations,'' and that women of various nationalities, including Koreans and Indonesians from Java, were confined there.
Japan invaded East Timor in 1942 to fight Australian troops in what was then a Portuguese colony.
About 15 comfort stations were set up there for Japanese soldiers, according to an East Timor jurist who is serving as a prosecutor at the mock trial, which was organized by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
The jurist said 15 women have been confirmed as former sex slaves in East Timor in investigations that recently began following the end of Indonesian rule in the territory.
Boe and Abu Bore are among 60 former sex slaves attending the tribunal. The other survivors testifying come from South and North Korea, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Netherlands.
A total of 11 people, including the late Emperor Hirohito and Gen. Hideki Tojo, a wartime prime minister, are accused of responsibility for the practice of sexual slavery and the rape by soldiers of an estimated 200,000 sex slaves before and during World War II. Most of the accused are now dead.
Prosecutors at the tribunal allege these acts constituted crimes against humanity in violation of international law effective in wartime.
The tribunal consists of four judges, led by Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, former president of the War Crimes Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia, two chief prosecutors and prosecutors from various countries and territories whose nationals became sex slaves.
The tribunal is to conclude its hearings later in the day. A ''ruling,'' which will not be legally binding, is scheduled to be handed down by the four judges on Tuesday.