War Amps calls Hong Kong vets memorial a fitting tribute



    OTTAWA, Aug. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - The War Amps today called the Hong Kong
Veterans Memorial Wall a fitting tribute to the 1,975 Canadian men and women
sent to assist the British in defending Hong Kong against the Japanese
invasion in World War II.
    Erected by the Hong Kong Veterans' Commemorative Association, the
Memorial Wall will be unveiled and dedicated at the corner of Sussex Drive and
King Edward Street in Ottawa in an 11 a.m. ceremony on Saturday, August 15th.
    Calling it a "story that will never die," The War Amps was the driving
force in obtaining compensation from the Canadian Government of $24,000 for
each surviving Hong Kong Veteran or their widow for the inhumane treatment
they received in direct violation of the specific provisions of the Geneva
Convention.
    The Canadian Army troops were comprised primarily of the Winnipeg
Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles of Canada, drawn mainly from the Eastern
Townships of Québec.
    They sailed from Canada on October 27, 1941, reaching Hong Kong on
November 16th. Japan attacked the Hong Kong garrison on December 7, 1941, and
the battle lasted 17 1/2 days, ending on Christmas Day, 1941. The Canadians
lost 286 killed or murdered by their captors and endured 44 months of
imprisonment either in Hong Kong or Japan. One hundred and thirty-three
Canadian soldiers died in the Hong Kong PoW camps. Another 136 died in camps
in Japan.
    Led by War Amps CEO Cliff Chadderton and Association Solicitor Brian
Forbes, The War Amps in 1987 obtained non-governmental organization (NGO)
status, and began the fight for compensation at the UN Human Rights Commission
in Geneva, making numerous submissions to clarify points including that there
was no moratorium on war crimes of World War II and that "grave breaches" of
the Geneva Convention had been perpetrated by the Japanese in their treatment
of Canadian PoWs.
    In 1992, the UN Commission stated it could not proceed until The War Amps
exhausted all domestic remedies, and so in November 1996, the Association made
a submission to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International
Trade. The Standing Committee submitted a report to the Minister of Veterans
Affairs recommending that the Canadian Government pay the Claim and seek
restitution from Japan. The Committee later produced a report, supported by
all political parties and tabled in the House of Commons on May 7, 1998.
    The matter was raised in the House on June 3, 1998, when Foreign Affairs
Minister Axworthy was asked about The War Amps discovery of documents showing
that Canada had ignored and covered up an opportunity in 1955 to seek more
compensation for Hong Kong Veterans. Axworthy, upon reviewing the
documentation, advised Cliff Chadderton that he considered the matter "urgent"
and was instituting an inquiry within his Department.
    On December 11, 1998, the Claim was paid in accordance with the provision
of the Geneva Convention that prisoners of war who were forced into slave
labour for Japanese industries are required to be paid at the same rate as
workers in Japan. It was further recognized that Canada failed to protect the
interests of the Hong Kong PoWs under the Geneva Convention.
    The War Amps told this story in an internationally award-winning
documentary called Canada's Hong Kong Veterans: The Compensation Story.




For further information:

For further information: please contact Communications at (613) 731-2952
in Ottawa, toll-free at 1877 60MEDIA or email communications@waramps.ca. A
backgrounder and additional information on the Hong Kong veterans can be found
at waramps.ca/news/hongkong/home.html


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