New Taipei, Nov. 14 (CNA) The de facto United States ambassador to Taiwan on Sunday called on the world to remember the courage and sacrifice made by prisoners from Allied nations during World War II at an annual memorial held at a former prisoner of war (POW) camp in New Taipei.
Speaking at the Remembrance Day event at Taiwan Prisoner of War Memorial Park, Sandra Oudkirk, director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), said it was an honor to take part in the event to remember the POWs held captive in Taiwan during WWII.
According to Oudkirk, most of the soldiers, sailors and airmen who were prisoners at the former Kinkaseki Prisoner of War Camp in Jinguashi were captured during the earliest battles of the Pacific War.
Kinkaseki was one of the most notorious Japanese POW camps of WWII.
These Allied servicemen struck the first blow in protecting liberty and democracy and paid the price with their sacrifice, but their bravery helped to lay the foundation for the ultimate victory, Oudkirk said.
"As we remember the Allied prisoners of war, we must remember the ideals they fought and died for," she said. "We owe them a debt that can never be repaid, and which must never be forgotten."
Oudkirk was among several foreign envoys that participated in Sunday's event, including Jordan Reeves, head of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT); John Dennis, representative of the British Office in Taipei; and Stephanie Lee, director of the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office.
The AIT, CTOT, British Office, and the New Zealand office each represent their respective country's interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.
The event featured speeches from representatives of the Commonwealth and Allied governments and Taiwan's Veterans Affairs Council, as well as readings and remembrances from the former POWs, family members, and friends, before concluding with the wreath-laying ceremony on the POW Memorial.
According to the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society, which organizes the event, the ceremony takes place every year in November on the weekend closest to the 11th to remember the men who suffered in the prison camps in Taiwan during WWII.
According to the society, more than 4,000 POWs, including American, British, Australian, and Dutch prisoners, were held at 17 camps or related facilities set up by the Japanese Imperial Army in Taiwan between 1942 and 1945.
Up to 42 percent of them were killed or died in captivity.
These POWs suffered trauma 24 hours a day, with the constant threat of death, disease, beatings, torture, starvation, seeing their comrades dying around them, burying them, and even being forced to dig their own graves, according to the society.
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Sandra Oudkirk (second left), director of the American Institute in Taiwan, attends the Remembrance Day event in New Taipei Sunday. CNA photo Nov. 14, 2021
CNA photo Nov. 14, 2021