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Group to mark Far East Prisoner of War Day in Taipei next week

2012/07/30 12:29:23

Taipei, July 30 (CNA) A program in dedication to prisoners of war (POWs) during World War II will be held next week in Taipei to mark the Far East Prisoner of War (FEPOW) Day that falls on Aug. 15, the organizer said recently.

The event will take place Aug. 11 to remember military personnel and civilians who suffered imprisonment by the Japanese forces during the war, said Michael Hurst, founder and director of the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society.

This will be the fifth FEPOW Day event organized by the group in Taipei, after the day was created in the United Kingdom in 2007 to remember those who were enslaved in East and Southeast Asia by the Japanese troops, Hurst told CNA via e-mail.

The main purpose of the event"is to create an awareness of the suffering endured by all the former POWs and civilian internees," Hurst said.

However, the memorial service is being held especially to remind people about those who suffered and died in the 14 POW camps around Taiwan, he added.

The event, which will take place at SPOT-Taipei Film House, will feature an exhibition of World War II military and prisoner of war artifacts collected by the society, including military uniforms and personal items used by the Japanese soldiers and the Allied POWs, Hurst noted.

There will also be a showing of the documentary "The True Story of the Bridge on the River Kwai," which portrays the experience of the POWs constructing the Railway of Death in Burma and Thailand, he said.

In addition to holding regular memorial services, Hurst, who established the society in 1999, has played an integral part in setting up monuments and other memorials at former POW camps around Taiwan.

For example, a sculpture named "Mates" was unveiled last November at the POW Memorial Park in Jinguashi, New Taipei, on the former site of one of the most notoriously cruel Japanese camps known as Kinkaseki.

Designed by Hurst, the object symbolizes the importance of the POWs' support for one another during the tough days of internment.

A black granite wall, inscribed with the names of the 4,363 former POWs kept at different camps around Taiwan between 1942 and 1945 -- the last four years of Japanese colonial rule over the island that began in 1895 -- was also erected last year.

In the same year, Taiwan's eighth POW monument, set up in Taipei's Dazhi area near the former camp of Taihoku, was inaugurated.

(By Elaine Hou)