GUAM WAR VICTIMS RELIVE PAIN

By Gene Park

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Dec. 1) - It took more than two days for 77-year-old Edward Aguon to fill out a two-page questionnaire that lets him tell how he was tortured and forced to work under the Japanese occupation of Guam under World War II.

The Pago Bay resident said he became emotional and had flashbacks as he wrote down his experiences, which will be reviewed by the Guam War Claims Review Commission.

"When I sat down to think about this, it felt really bad," said Aguon, explaining how difficult it was for him to write down horrible memories he would rather forget.

Tomorrow is the last day for survivors and their relatives to turn in the questionnaires to the commission in order to testify at the public hearings scheduled for next week.

Former speaker and commission member Tony Unpingco said about 7,000 questionnaires have been distributed.

As of yesterday, about 1,600 forms have been completed and returned, including faxes from off-island survivors. Unpingco yesterday said he expects to receive twice as many completed forms tomorrow.

Numerous people had filed into the office in the Chamorro Village yesterday to write down their stories. The office was supposed to close at noon but didn't do so until hours later. Throughout the day, faxes were streaming in through the office's fax machine.

Unpingco said the office has been receiving hundreds of completed forms faxed from the U.S. mainland.

The questionnaire's purpose, in accordance with the Guam War Claims Review Commission Act, is to discover instances of infliction of death, personal injury, forced labor, forced march and internment. The public hearings will allow war survivors to speak about their experiences under the Japanese occupation during the war, to assist the commission in determining whether there was disparity in war claims compensation.

Aguon recalls he was 15 years old when a Japanese soldier slammed him in the back with a steel shovel because he could not shovel coral quickly enough into a truck.

But the physical pain does not compare to the emotional and psychological scars he still bears.

Aguon said he was forced to watch the execution and mutilation of people by Japanese troops at an area near the current location of Polaris Point.

"They were tied to a tree, and were beaten, punched and bayoneted," he said. "Their bodies became lifeless, but they kept stabbing them. We were told if we didn't watch what they were doing, then we would be next. It was a brutal scene."

Aguon said he also was forced to march to the concentration camps at Manengon Hills.

Aguon said he isn't looking to be monetarily compensated. He just wants to tell his story.

"How can you put a price on all those years we lost?" Aguon said. "All those torments and executions. We just want to let the people of the world know what happened to us during occupation."

December 1, 2003

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

 

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