Sanne van Oosten
Yesterday, the mayor of the Japanese Osaka said that the comfort women, who were forced into prostitution during the Pacific War, were essential back then. They were useful in keeping the soldier disciplined and, above all, they were recruited voluntarily, he said. This rightfully caused a wide range fierce protests. This reminded me of the time we were in Seoul. It was a rainy Wednesday afternoon in and we headed towards the Japanese embassy to see the weekly “Comfort Women Protest.” Since it was raining we were afraid nobody would be there, but the contrary turned out to be true: a large group of men and women of all ages were gathered armed with banners, camera’s, loudspeakers and an army of police.
The Netherlands celebrated liberation day yesterday, five days after the crowning of the new king. Amsterdam was the stage of the big celebration during the crowning. Its main square was full of people dressed in orange to say goodbye to queen Beatrix who passed the torch to her son Willem Alexander after 33 years of reign. The country was dazzled in euphoria without realising that on that same day fundamental human rights were violated.
How long and windy the road to national reconciliation is, is perhaps most visible in Shan State. National reconciliation refers to the quest of finding a way for all the people within the borders of Myanmar to live together. Shan’s roads are windy. Travel takes a long time because of that. The Shan are also a proud people who are not giving up on their dream to again one day have a say over their own destiny.
Yesterday I went to the Dutch premier of the documentary The Khmer Rouge and the Man of Non-Violence. In this documentary the French lawyer of Duch, the leader of the infamous S-21 prison camp in Cambodia, was followed. It showed a defence team in disgrace within a troubled tribunal and reminded me of the blog I wrote earlier: was the tribunal worth it? It also reminded my of the time of which I studied all the transcripts of this trial to create some understanding of what happened. It took me almost a year to draw this picture. Underneath is an article derived from this extensive research, for this occasion a bit more text than the usual blog. You can also download the full article it here, including references, acknowledgments and a diagram. For those who find it to too much of a read, the video above was created to explain the basics of the functioning of S-21.
What happens when a feminist becomes pregnant? Does she hate her body? Does she wish she were a man? Does she wallow in misery? Not this feminist. Every change in my body is received with joy, even the (mild, yes I’m lucky) nausea is easy to get through with the thought that it is leading us to having our own child. The swelling belly is exciting, the growing out of my pants is exciting, the ultrasound: all very exciting. So what did happen when this feminist became pregnant? Well, I noticed some conspicuous social interactions that need to be criticized.
Ieng Sary, the former Khmer Rouge foreign minister, died today while he was standing trial for being one of the leaders of the regime responsible for killing around 2 million people. This is another setback for the tribunal that only convicted one person since it became operational in 2007. Ieng Sary’s wife, Ieng Thirith, who was also standing trial was released earlier because of her Alzheimer’s desease. Now, there are only two suspects left. Many blame the tribunal as unprofessional, corrupt and inefficient. Is the tribunal turning out to be a fiasco?
Sanne van Oosten
Yes, drinking cultures, plural. There is no way to speak of one typical way of drinking alcohol throughout Asia. Some just don’t drink, some drink obsessively, others only drink obsessively on special occasions and then there’s the ones that use drunkenness as a way to make important decisions. Please allow me to explain with some drunken examples.
Sanne van Oosten
A rose by any other name will still smell as sweet…?Well, Shakespeare, you might just be wrong about that one. The two names Myanmar and Burma are often used interchangeably but have incredibly different implications. Burma was the name that came into fashion during the British colonial period in the second half of the 19th century. Myanmar was the replacement of that name instated by the military junta in 1989. Opposition leader and Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi prefers the name Burma because, as she has stated in various media: “the name was changed without any reference to the will of the people.” Even though I tend to side with Aung San Suu Kyi on just about any issue concerning the country’s politics, I think using the name Burma requires some rethinking. This name might just not smell as sweet to all of the people living in Burma/Myanmar. Read More…
Davey Meelker and Sanne van Oosten
Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country in the world and with less than 17 million inhabitants. It exists mostly out of empty steppe, but this doesn’t mean the country has no history or culture. On the contrary, with its culture of extreme hospitality and the woeful Soviet history there is no other country than Kazakhstan.