|A memorial ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre is held at the Memorial Hall of the Victims in the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, Dec. 13, 2012. Nanjing was occupied on Dec. 13, 1937, by Japanese troops who began a six-week massacre. Records show more than 300,000 Chinese unarmed soldiers and civilians were killed. (Xinhua/Sun Can)
NANJING, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Sirens wailed at 10 a.m. Thursday in Nanjing, as 9,000 people from around the world attended a peace rally to mark the 75th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre.
Large wreaths were presented and the People's Republic of China national anthem was sung, before people bowed three times and took part in a silent tribute.
Nanjing, capital of eastern Jiangsu Province, bears painful memories of Japan's invasion of China during World War II.
More than 300,000 Chinese people, including infants and the elderly, were massacred after Japanese troops occupied the city in December 1937.
In a keynote speech at the rally, Yang Weize, secretary of the Nanjing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, said, "It (the Nanjing Massacre) is the darkest part in modern civilization for human beings.
"As we review history and mourn the dead," Yang continued, "we engrave the lesson in our minds 'falling behind will suffer beating, only development can make us strong.'"
People from the United States, Canada, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Greece, Nepal, the Republic of Korea and Japan attended the rally held at a square in front of the Memorial Hall of the Victims for the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders.
Zhu Chengshan, memorial hall curator, said it had been the 10th year in a row since the international peace rally was held on the massacre anniversary.
"We believe it is a good practice to promote world peace," Zhu said.
Earlier in the morning, 200 monks from Buddhist temples in Nanjing and Japan braved the cold and started a mantras chanting praying ceremony in front of a "weeping wall" outside the memorial, on which the names of victims killed during the massacre are engraved.
According to documents from the memorial hall, which has collected 25,000 pieces of evidence, more than 20,000 rapes of Chinese women by Japanese invaders occurred during the massacre. More than one third of buildings in the city were destroyed by the bombardment.
NANJING MASSACRE SURVIVOR
Zhang Xiuhong came early Thursday to the memorial hall. The 87-year-old woman attended the mourning ceremony as a representative of oral history tellers of the Nanjing Massacre.
In 1937, Zhang was only 12 years old. She was brutally raped during the Japanese occupation of Nanjing that left her both physically and psychologically traumatized for the rest of her life.
"When the Japanese came to my house to take me away, my grandpa begged them to let me go since I was only 12, but they threatened to stab him. Then I begged my grandpa to let them take me away, otherwise both of us would die," Zhang recalled.
The teenage girl was badly injured, which attributed to a difficult labor when she gave birth.
The testimonies of Zhang and two other living survivors have been documented by the Nanjing Massacre Research Association in line with the international oral history documentation standard since April.
Only about 200 of 1,213 massacre survivors located in a 1997 survey are alive today, the youngest being 75 years of age. Testimonies have been collected from 43 of the survivors.
NEW HISTORICAL RECORDS
Zhu, the memorial hall curator, said donators from Canada, the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea on Thursday contributed 46 historical records or documents on the Nanjing Massacre to the memorial hall.
Among them, there were records of war achievement lists and diaries of the Japanese army during the invasion, documents recorded by Americans and evidence donated by volunteers who worked in a refugee house in Jinling Middle School, Nanjing, during the war.
A donation from the United States showed a letter written by Searle Bates, an American missionary who once worked as a teacher in Jinling University in Nanjing. He wrote in the letter to the Disciples of Christ about what he saw in Nanjing during the massacre.
JAPANESE CHORUS PERFORMANCE
A Japanese chorus group performed at the end of the peace rally.
Long Yang, a Nanjing citizen, cried as he listened to the song "The Story of Violet Orychophragmus" sung by the Japan Violet Orychophragmus Chorus.
The flower popular in Nanjing is said to have been taken to Japan by a Japanese soldier. The flower now thrives on Japanese soil.
Dozens of Japanese singers, most in their senior years, sang the chorus in Chinese. "The flower of peace, violet orychophragmus."
The chorus was the only cultural performance at the peace rally, and it was the first time that it had been introduced to the event, according to organizers.
Yamaguchi Sayoko, a Japanese Buddhist believer, who came to the massacre anniversary to pray, said as a national from the country which started the war, she was "profoundly sorry for the victims killed during the war, the survivors and their families."