According to the organizers' official website, Unforgotten Butterflies, the annual commemoration aims to educate and raise "awareness about Comfort Women and issues surrounding human trafficking ... We hope to give victims who are marginalized, voiceless, and powerless a voice through educational programs and activities."
"This is something we can not forget as a human race. We need to continue to educate our people the risks and challenges of human exploitation we're still facing today. By forgetting things like 'comfort women' during WWII, we are condemned to repeat those practices in the future," Steve Babick, mayor of Carrollton, Texas, who came to watch the film, told Xinhua.
According to the China Comfort Women Research Center, approximately 400,000 Asian women -- mostly Korean or Chinese -- were forcibly taken away from their homes by the Japanese army during WWII. They were taken to a "comfort station," a brothel that catered to Japanese soldiers, where they were raped, tortured and humiliated.
Sinmin Pak, founder and president of Unforgotten Butterflies, said that the WWII "Comfort Women" came from 34 countries and areas worldwide. As of 2019, only about 30 individual "comfort women" were alive, most of them in their mid-90s.
The victims have been waiting their entire lives for justice, said Pak.
The commemoration took place just one day before the 77th anniversary of Japan's surrender, marking the end of WWII.
Though 77 years have passed, the Japanese government has yet to offer a profound reflection and apology on the "comfort women" issue. Instead, the problem has been whitewashed and distorted in various ways to obliterate the historical truth, said Pak.
However, worldwide efforts to defend historical truth and international justice have never been relinquished. Historical materials about "comfort women" have been publicized, films about the issue have continued to emerge and memorial statues of "comfort women" have been erected in many countries, including the United States.
During Sunday's commemoration, Dr. Joci Ryan, director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program at Southern Methodist University, encouraged all attendees to ensure that the history of "comfort women" is not forgotten and the truth is kept alive.
Without an apology, open wounds never heal, observers say. The world is waiting for the Japanese government to acknowledge the deep suffering of so-called "comfort women." For now, it remains an unfinished story full of unforgettable pain.