Here, In America?
THE ASSEMBLY ON THE WARTIME RELOCATION AND INTERNMENT OF CIVILIANS (AWRIC)
“I was struck by the number of ethnicities whose rights were violated in WWII--& how it’s happening again, to others. It’s wonderful to see all ethnic groups working together to get the truth of WWII internment out.”
“Expectations exceeded—testimony was riveting, compelling—learned so much. So many new insights into the larger view of our history.”
View program booklet (partial)
The AWRIC was an historic public testimonial event held on April 8 & 9, 2005 at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, California. Involving over 23 community organizations, more than 64 participants, and scores of staff and volunteers, this exciting gathering served to document and preserve the little known WWII stories of immigrants of German, Italian and Japanese ancestry (in the US and from Latin America) as well as the experiences of the Arab, Muslim and South Asian communities who are being scapegoated as "the enemy" today.
Highlighted were remembrances of individuals and families who were among over 31,000 "potentially dangerous" enemy aliens who were apprehended under the WWII enemy alien program. Thousands were interned for reasons of "national security" in US Department of Justice camps and Army facilities separate from the camps where over 120,000 UC citizens and resident immigrants of Japanese ancestry were incarcerated. The US government also went outside its borders to 15 Latin American countries. Over 6000 men, women and children of German, Italian and Japanese ancestry—both immigrant residents as well as citizens of those countries—were taken from their homes, forcibly deported and interned in the US for the purpose of prisoner exchange.
The AWRIC event provided an opportunity for the public to understand how government policies and actions have impacted individuals and communities, both US citizens and immigrants, and to consider what lessons can be drawn from our nation's past which can provide insight into issues we face today, especially our concerns about the need for national security and the preservation of our civil liberties.
Staff and volunteers have been hard at work: compiling the AWRIC personal testimonies and commentary, transcribing 10 hours of audio tapes, developing a 15 minute video (produced by Peek Media), writing up a summary report (written by award-winning journalist and author Helen Zia) and more.
A community delegation went to Washington, D.C. to deliver copies of the AWRIC Proceedings Report and Videotape to the US Congress and international human rights organizations, providing vital background information when considering pending and future policies, legislation or litigation. [Read more about the delegation here]
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