Monthly Archives: January 2020

Ibu Paini (1930-2020)
Ibu Paini (1930-2020), comfort woman: during WWII she was forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese military.

January 16, 2020, I received the sad news that Ibu Paini (from our “Comfort Women” book and exhibition) has passed away at the age of 90. She also played a big role in Hilde Janssen‘s book “Schaamte en Onschuld: Het Verdrongen Oorlogsverleden van Troostmeisjes in Indonesie” (in Dutch) as well as in Frank van Osch‘s documentary “Because We Were Beautiful.”
In spite of the sexual abuse on a large scale by Japanese military during WWII, Paini was a disarming and warm-hearted woman. A true darling.
Selamat jalan, ibu Paini.

Hilde Janssen wrote on her Facebook page:

“Selamat jalan simbah Paini, Rest in Peace
( Semarang, Indonesia 1930-2020)

Ibu Paini is no more. The sad news of her death reached me last night by text message, sent by one of her great grand children. Paini was an endearing, smart and strong-willed woman, bravely carrying the burden of the past. 
Paini was one of the former comfort woman that was interviewed by me and portrayed by Jan Banning in 2008 for our project on Indonesian victims of Japanese warcrimes during WWII, being raped, forced into prostitution and sexual slavery. Paini was one of the younger victims, just 13 years old, when she had to perform forced labur for the the Japanese soldiers in her village in Cental JavaIn. Some evenings after work she ws regularly called to the baracks and raped repeatedly. Once the war was over, her husband-to-be would have nothing to do with her. Paini was branded as a ‘Japanese-hand-me-down’, a ‘bekas Jepang’. She took it in her stride. After a brief second arranged marriage, she left the village to work as a maid before starting a family with her third husband. “I told him I was ‘used’, but he liked me anyway. We enjoyed each others company a lot. That is why I have a lot of children now.”
Paini didn’t want to burden her children family with her past. She never talked to them about the war time abuse, feeling too ashamed. However, she joined meetings and demonstrations in the 1990s to demand a formal apology for their war crimes against the former comfort women. She broke the silence and told me her story, repeating her ordeal in front a Japanese film crew in 2015, still hoping to have her honour restored. When I saw her the last time in August 2018, she still felt sad and angry that the Japanese government keeps on ignoring their demands. 
Paini never lost hope, till the last moment. Although she became very fragile, her mind was still sharp and her eyes sparkling, encouraging her great grand children to study and work hard to have a better life. She will be dearly missed by all.

Rest in peace dear Paini, selamat jalan”

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Christina’s Christmas Carrol

Georgia’s parole board has decided to treat Christina Boyer to a bitter Christmas gift: her parole has been rejected again and she will have to spend another year in prison. The five members of that board – each spending an average of three minutes per “case” – did not give any reason for the rejection. It surely cannot have been her behavior in Pulaski Women’s Prison: she has been living in the elite hallfor some time as a reward for good behavior.

You probably remember that she was arrested in 1992 on charges of murdering her three-year-old daughter Amber; that she accepted a plea deal in 1994, under threat of a death penalty, on the advice of a lax defense lawyer; and that she has been detained ever since, for more than 27 years now.
In-depth research of me and others, including my interviews with the Dutch pathologist and anatomist Frank van de Goot and neurosurgeon Guus Beute on the basis of the autopsy report, has made it clear that she cannot be guilty. But because of her acceptance of that plea deal, reopening her case is not an option and she is therefore completely dependent on the grace of the parole board.
In January, I will discuss with her lawyer how to continue with our attempts to get her released.

Finding her family
Totally by chance, but very fortunately, I turned out to be able to also convey to Christina some very news.
            During my last stay in Georgia, October-November 2019, I had managed to visit her in prison “through a back door”. Indicative for the rickety workings of the overcrowded but under-funded prison system – which turned out to be favorable in this case – is that after returning to Atlanta I found a message from the PR department of the Department of Corrections: being a ‘member of the media’ I was not allowed to visit her.
            Anyway, during that conversation Christina casually gave me her birth name, Davis. When she was ten months old, she was abandoned and consequently adopted, and she told me that if she would ever be released, she would start searching for biological family. Her relationship with the rest of the adoptive family had always been bad, and since Amber’s death she no longer had anyone she considered part of her family.
Recently I did an internet search, without many expectations. But to my amazement, I found this post: Michele A *** is looking for her biological sister. The adoptee was born in Ohio in 1969 on October 20th. She was born Tina Marie Davis in Columbus, Ohio, to 21-year-old birthmother Barbara Jean Parker (maiden name Davis).”That information was very similar to what I knew about Christina! Further research yielded, among other things, an address and a few telephone numbers, and finally fellow supporter Susan also found a Facebook page. One glance at the profile photo was enough to see: this had to be a (half-) sister of Christina!
            Michele responded to our Facebook message and within one hour after I received the news of Christina’s parole denial, I was on the phone with Michele. It was a very emotional conversation: she had been looking for her sister for years. Michele, too, appeared to live a difficult life: her – and Christina’s – mother had been a heroin addict and had since passed away; Michele herself was born a heroin baby, had struggled with addiction all her life and had also spent time in jail. She craved for contact with her sister and shortly afterwards I heard that her children are also very shocked, that they embrace Christina and want to help her in every way possible.

You can imagine how emotional the phone call was in which I informed Christina of both the rejection (which she will receive by snail mail later) and the discovery of her sister and the rest of her family. She was astonished and deeply saddened and very happy at the same time. Unbelievably, precisely on Christmas day, the sisters had their first phone call ever. To be continued …

In March, Dutch national radio will broadcast a podcast about Christina and my activities for her, made by Katinka Baehr, who has been ‘following’ me for almost a year now.

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