Scholars and leaders from the Chinese Canadian community called for world peace at a forum in Toronto to remember victims of the Nanjing Massacre.
Eighty-two years ago, in December 1937, the invading Japanese Army slaughtered at least 300,000 civilians and Chinese soldiers who had already laid down their weapons, in what came to be known as the Nanjing Massacre. Statistics show there also were 20,000 rapes within six weeks of the Japanese occupation.
"I think what happened in Nanjing, it was not a massacre, but genocide," Toronto City Councillor Jim Karygiannis said at the forum Sunday. The councillor said his grandparents' family members were killed by the Nazis.
The world suffered several genocides in the 20th century, and when Adolf Hitler carried out his Final Solution and said "who will remember the Armenian genocide?" one never expected there would be genocides similar to the Holocaust, said Karygiannis, such as in Nanjing and later in Rwanda.
"We must know our history," he said. "These massacres are not only an issue of an ethnic group or nationality but an issue for humanity."
Soo Wong, a former Member of Provincial Parliament, whose motion designating Dec 13 as Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day was passed in Ontario, asserted that every school board in the province needs to know about the crimes against humanity.
"Those 'comfort women' — we should stop calling them 'comfort women' — they were women, mothers, sisters and grandmothers, who were murdered, tortured and abused. They were all over Asia," said Wong, in reference to women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Army. "Now the Asian students are across the province; they need to know their history.
"I am still waiting to hear the Japanese government say they are sorry," she said. "I know we won't get it, but I will still hope."
Yu Chengzhang, a senior adviser in sustainable development and planning and president of the Hong Maple Foundation, shared stories about international humanitarians who called for justice after witnessing Japanese Army atrocities in Nanjing.
During the Japanese occupation, 24 Western humanitarians created the Nanjing Security Zone that provided shelter to 250,000 Chinese people.
"Their righteous actions will always be remembered in the epic of human peace and will be good examples of peace education for future generations," Yu said.
Learning from the Jewish community and promoting Nanjing Massacre remembrance should become a mission for the Chinese community, said George Guan, a licensed paralegal at Harmony Legal Service.
The Jewish communities of the world do not allow mankind to forget their tragic history, and they have regarded the pursuit of Nazi war criminals as a duty, Guan said.
Canada has three national anniversaries to commemorate the Holocaust, and four national memorial halls focusing on the Holocaust.
"Chinese Canadians should stand up for justice and truth," said Guan. "The Jewish community in Canada has done a good job and is an example for our Chinese community to follow."
Dec 10 marks the anniversary of the publication of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948, which promotes a world without war and genocide.
"The Nanjing Massacre was a colossal human rights violation. If we are concerned about human rights, we cannot ignore the Nanjing Massacre," said Guo Xiaoming, a physics expert at McGill University.
"The reason we are having a memorial for the Nanjing Massacre victims is to recall that all good-hearted people yearn for and hold fast to peace, not to prolong hatred," President Xi Jinping has said.
Wang Ti, vice-president of Chinese Canadians for China's Reunification, said "the Chinese and Japanese people and all the peace-loving people should continue to be friendly from generation to generation and remember the history. The more we learn from the past, the more we cherish the peace."