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Otterman speaks...

Cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore - Archives

List of Categories : travel * museum * cycling * Singapore Naturalist * science * kakis * mangroves * movies * mac and the internet * meow * NUS * life in Singapore * lit * world *

Fri 12 Nov 2004

R. I. P. Iris Chang

Category : world

I was shocked and saddened to read this on [boing boing] - Iris Chang was found dead on Wed 10 Nov 2004, of a gunshot wound, apparently self-inflicted. The Chinese community in the bay area, however, contest this.

She is the author of "The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II" (see amazon) (1997). I remember reading at the time, how traumatised she had been by the research about that atrocity but was glad for the documentation she provided - I found it meticulously researched and was glad for the cross-referencing she provided. It created considerable controversy instead of sliding into the history section unnoticed, as the author thought it might.

The stories her parents told her in her youth about the massacre had apparently receded to the background and her outrage was re-awakened after her postgraduate studies when she encountered photos on display during a conference in 1994. In a ''single blinding moment', she found herself "suddenly in a panic" that the massacre "would be reduced to a footnote of history"' - [Charles Burress, San Francisco Chronicle, 26 Jul 1998].

Read about her work in this article. She went on to write The Chinese in America and was researching a book about the war in Bataan, Philippines, during World War II.

There is an an audio clip on the US National Public Radio here. A friend suggests she was overcome by depression from being immersed by the brutal material of her work, and had been treated for depression before. See also the AP report.

She was currently involved in 'researching injustices committed against the Filipino community in Bataan during WWII, and was setting up an oral history programme for the Nanjing massacre survivors.' She had received death threats' about both her projects [Chee Kin on singaporeheritage]. The Bay area Chinese community are apparently skeptical of the suggestion the wound was self-inflicted.

"In fact, denial and amnesia are considered to be part of the final stage of genocide. First the victims are killed, and then the memory of killing itself, is killed."

R.I.P Iris Chang.

Posted at 11:21PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | , .