Justice for Lai Dai Han Unveils Historic Statue to Honour Victims of Sexual Violence
-Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad and other VIP guests headlined the event-
London, United Kingdom, 11 June 2019 – Today, Justice for Lai Dai Han (JLDH) was joined by Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Nadia Murad, and other distinguished Parliamentary guests, including Chair of the Vietnam All Party Parliamentary Group, Wayne David MP and Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne at Church House near Westminster for the unveiling of a statue honouring all victims of sexual violence, including the Lai Dai Han.
Today’s historic event, held just a few months after the Parliamentary launch on 16 January 2019, was the second in a series to raise awareness of the widespread nature of sexual violence in global conflicts.
The ‘Lai Dai Han’ are the thousands of dual heritage Korean-Vietnamese individuals born as a result of wartime rape or sexual abuse during the Vietnam War. JLDH represents them and their mothers, of which 800 are still alive, who allege that they were sexually assaulted or raped by South Korean soldiers during the War. Some of the women who allege they were raped were as young as 12 or 13 at the time.
The “Mother and Child” statue, designed by Rebecca Hawkins, will serve as a beacon of hope to all victims of sexual violence around the world. It depicts a mother and child with different roots trapped by a Strangler Fig tree, a plant native to Vietnam, which is wrapping its branches around them, refusing to let them go. After the unveiling event, the sculpture will go on display at the Gallery at 10 Hanover Street near Oxford Circus, before being installed as an outdoor exhibit in central London.
On Monday, several members of the Lai Dai Han community hand-delivered a letter to No. 10 Downing Street which called on the British Government to formally support calls for an independent investigation led by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) into what happened to the thousands of women raped by South Korean soldiers during the Vietnam War. As part of this process, 50 members of the Lai Dai Han community have offered to provide DNA samples to be compared with a database of South Korean soldiers.
Nadia Murad, Nobel Peace Prize Winner 2018, said:
“Today’s event helps to bring awareness to the plight of the Vietnamese victims of sexual violence as they seek recognition and justice. I am proud to stand up for all victims of sexual violence around the world.”
Rt. Hon. Jack Straw said:
“The statue unveiled today puts a face to the names of the women and children who are victims of Korean wartime sexual violence. We need an independent investigation by the UNHCR into the rape of Vietnamese women by South Korean soldiers. We must demonstrate that we remain committed and supportive of all victims of sexual violence.”
Sculpture Artist Rebecca Hawkins said:
“I hope that this statue helps raise awareness for this important campaign and gives the women and children the justice and closure that they need. Being part of this campaign and meeting these brave and courageous women has been the honour of a lifetime and I urge everyone to hear their story.”
ABOUT THE LAI DAI HAN
The “Lai Dai Han” are the tens of thousands of children of Vietnamese women that allege they were raped by South Korean soldiers during the Vietnam War. Between 1964 and 1973, some 320,000 South Korean soldiers were deployed to Vietnam to fight alongside the United States.
Justice for Lai Dai Han gives a voice to the victims and their children and campaigns for South Korea to recognise and investigate the allegations of widespread rape and sexual violence.
Justice for Lai Dai Han works with policy makers, writers and artists to ensure this injustice is finally recognised, alongside fundraising efforts on behalf of the Lai Dai Han and their families.
Our work seeks to raise public awareness, to allow political and community leaders to connect with the victims of sexual violence to understand their suffering firsthand, and to create public art as a permanent reminder of the plight of the Lai Dai Han.