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Jakarta Globe Thursday, December 11, 2008

This Day in History December 11

1997

The world’s first treaty to reduce greenhouse gases is finally agreed on after marathon talks in Kyoto, Japan
1901: Italian Guglielmo Marconi sends the first transatlantic radio signal from Poldhu, in southwestern England, to St. John’s, Newfoundland, in Canada 1941: Italy and Germany declare war on the United States; the US Congress declares war on both, as does Cuba, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala, while Poland declares war on Japan

1946

The United Nations General Assembly creates the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund, or Unicef, to provide relief to children in war-torn countries
1973: West German Chancellor Willy Brandt and Czech Prime Minister Lubomir Strougal formally sign a treaty nullifying the 1938 Munich pact, which sanctioned Hitler’s seizure of Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland 1990: Albania’s ruling Communist Party authorizes the formation of opposition political parties 1993: After 45 years of talks, a United Nations panel approves the creation of a new Commissioner for Human Rights to respond quickly to major human rights crises around the world 1994: Russia pours tanks and troops into Chechnya to end the rebel territory’s three-year drive for independence

A Chinese City Where the US Is Forever the Enemy
With reminders of the Korean War all around, it is hard for the residents of the border town of Dandong to let go

The Broken Bridge in Dandong is a permanent reminder of the conflict on the Korean Peninsula. The bridge was nearly destroyed during US raids and has since been partly restored. LA Times Photo

2001

China becomes a member of the World Trade Organization
2006: Iran stages a conference to debate the Holocaust and question whether Nazi Germany used gas chambers, prompting charges it is encouraging the denial of the killing of 6 million Jews during World War II, and leading Israel, the United States and a leader of Iran’s own 25,000-strong Jewish community to condemn the conference Reuters

H

Report John M. Glionna
ere at the Museum of the War to Resist American Aggression and Aid Korea, in Dandong, China, it is as if the clock stopped 55 years ago. “I feel like I am right there on the front lines,” said Wang Binyan, a 23-year-old teacher. “I can feel what the Chinese soldiers felt. In this place, Americans are the enemy.” The museum in this provincial city on the North Korean border tells a personal version of the Korean War, one that casts US foreign policy and military tactics in a decidedly negative light. Hundreds of historical photographs and exhibits present a proBeijing side of a conflict that saw Chinese forces rush to the aid of North Korea. There are photos of glum-looking American prisoners of war, accusations of US germ warfare as well as maps and pictures that purportedly show evidence of widespread civilian damage from American bombs. The commentaries with each exhibit are often heated, using phrases such as “American imperialists,” “wanton US bombing” and “despise and hate” to describe China’s view of the United States. Even now, in an era of more cordial Sino-US relations, many in this city of 2.4 million cannot forget the conflict on the Korean Peninsula that ended in 1953: reminders are all around. A hillside cemetery contains rows of white markers memorializing local soldiers who died in the conflict. Each carries the red star of Communist China, with name, rank and hometown. A solemn stone monument declares, “Long, long lives to those soldiers who died in the war to resist US aggression.” Not far away, along the Yalu River, which separates Dandong from North Korea, sits what locals call the Broken Bridge, a span that abruptly ends in the middle of the waterway. The original bridge was nearly destroyed during US bombing raids. The Chinese rebuilt their side of the structure and turned it into a living history museum. At the end of the span, visitors run their hands along the iron girders that were left gnarled and twisted by the US attack in November 1950. Nearby are full-size replicas of the bombs that wreaked the damage. Even the smallest bullet holes and shrapnel dents are marked with red circles, lest they be overlooked. As he snapped photographs, one Chinese tourist paused to address a Westerner. “See this damaged bridge?” he said. “Americans did this.” But the hilltop museum, built in 1958 at the site of a high-command bunker, is where the Americans take their biggest beating. Here, the war was won by countless brave Chinese volunteers. “After fighting a bloody war for two years and nine months,” one sign in Chinese and

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English reads, “the Korean and Chinese people’s army defeated the aggressors with modern technical equipment [led] by the US with inferior equipment. The US was unable to achieve its goal of rapid occupation of the whole Korea.” Dandong riverboat pilot Zhou Naiying, 47, was too young to fight in the war. But he has been among the thousands who visit the museum each year. “All humans with flesh and bones would feel angry that such a thing happened to their own countrymen,” he said. “You can’t forget the past. History is forever.” The war started when Northern soldiers in a divided Korea entered the South on June 25, 1950. Under the aegis of the United Nations, the United States and its allies intervened on behalf of South Korea. After South Korea made rapid advances in a counterattack, Chinese forces intervened on behalf of communist ally North Korea, that led to an armistice July 27, 1953, that approximately restored the original boundaries between North and South Korea along the 38th parallel. Many Chinese academics now adopt a softer stance toward the US agenda during the bloody skirmish. “Most scholars don’t refer to the museum by its formal name,” said Shen Zhihua, a professor at the Center for Cold War Studies at East China Normal University. “We now

‘You can’t forget the past. History is forever.’
Zhou Naiying, Dandong riverboat pilot

know North Korea stirred up the whole thing. We know who fired the first gun. The Americans entered the war authorized by the UN. It was a legal war.” Museum officials say the tone of the displays is set by the central government, which prefers the harder-line rhetoric. Director Zhao Yejun said that in 2004 the museum tried to soften the commentaries. The phrase “American imperialism,” for example, is not used unless in a direct quote. “We no longer use the phrases ‘our side’ and ‘the enemy,’ ” he said. “Now, we just say the US Army.” The museum once featured a marble placard that included the phrase “Defeat wolf-hearted America!” Zhao said that no longer existed. Still, the museum’s name will not be changed, he said, because it is a direct quote from Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung. Shi Yinhong, a professor of international politics at Beijing’s Renmin University, said there were reasons the government had not tempered the museum’s rhetoric. “Dandong is far from Beijing and so few Chinese or foreign guests visit,” he said. “If this museum was in a big city, there’s a greater possibility officials would modernize the language.” There are less practical reasons as well. “Some authorities think we should keep this past perception of the war,” Shi said. “If they changed it too much, people would criticize them, because some still believe America was wrong.” Some Western analysts say all museums carry their own bias. “Our version of history is also one-sided,” said Leon V. Sigal, author of “Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea.”
Los Angeles Times

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upright arms at the scene around her, slowly moving her head from left to right. Rizka has another go at the snacks. She takes a few nuts then throws them on the floor. “Leave it, she will eat them from there,” says a caretaker as Rizka picks a nut off the tile. Buck-toothed and sporting blue socks featuring a superhero, Nanda is out of her shackles and is being trained to sit on a padded seat. She curls her head down and purrs in delight when someone rubs the back of her neck. After sitting for a while, she belches and throws up. A caretaker rushes over to clean her and rub minyak kayu putih, or cajuput oil, on her stomach. “We’re going to lie you down on the floor, OK?” she says to Nanda. Meanwhile, Dimas runs around the room creating havoc, pushing an empty standing frame and swinging the support straps. Physically he is in fine form but Dimas is autistic and cannot speak. He starts yelling and pulls people toward a hanging strap, wanting to play. Lunchtime rolls around. All the children are taken off the standing frames and are left lying on the floor in various distorted positions as the caretakers prepare the food. Dani, effervescent, keeps laughing as a caretaker removes her splints. Vivi is spoon-fed on her

3-year-old Icha strapped to a standing frame to straighten her limbs. JG Photo/Titania Veda

back, her head propped up. The mashed up meal dribbles down her chin. Yellow and soft, her lunch also lands on her nose. Putri sits upright beside her, solemnly flattening her rice before slowly bringing it to her mouth. A tiny dark-skinned girl by her feet stretches an arm toward her, eyeing her plate. Dimas swoops in and steals her prawn cracker. Her reaction to catch him was too slow. She resumes her meal without a fuss. On the opposite side of the room, Icha sneezes and looks surprised. Dani breaks out in laughter. Vivi, clean after her meal, suddenly throws open her sticks of arms, her huge eyes bulging toward the ceiling. She looks like a crucified child. In the main house, the air is calmer and the atmosphere somber. Here lie the children too ill to move, in beds that have bars to prevent them from falling out. Above each bed is a wooden board listing each child’s name, birth date, origin, date of entry and ailments. Tiffany, 6, is the frailest and the worst case. “Blind, spastic, mute, paralyzed,” Kristanti reads. In the dark, the whites of her wide eyes glow like sunken torchlights as a caretaker brings a spoonful of tomato soup to her mouth. Yunas, 18, has been living at Wisma Tuna Ganda for 13 years. Although mute, he has full comprehension skills and responds with sign language and gestures. He often acts as a guide for visitors. Upstairs, in the girls’ and women’s

quarters, is Teresia. The T-shirt she is wearing says Dyna but Yunas knows it is her. Aged and lined, with bony bent limbs curved like a meditating yogi, Teresia is the oldest resident. She arrived five years after the place opened in 1975. In the bed nearby, a girl squeals, happy to be playing with a handful of black pebbles. There has only been one recorded case of adoption since the institution’s inception. “It was in 1975 and a Dutch person adopted a boy. Of course, the child was active and could be independent,” Kristanti says. “No one would take a child who couldn’t move. It is too much hassle.” Rare is the occasion when a child is taken back by their families. The fortunate few who are able to be productive are placed in other institutions to learn trade skills which are not provided here. But most residents die in the institution, often forgotten or abandoned by their families. “An institution like this is not a place to break ties. A child has a right to be loved and cared for, here or at home,” Kristanti says. “But most people abandon their responsibility once they give their child over to us. Parents don’t realize they cannot forget their children.” Wisma Tuna Ganda Jl. Raya Bogor km 28.5, Cimanggis, West Java Phone: 021 871 0063 or 021 922 5184