CFJ Redress Update
February 20, 2005 San Jose Day of
By Grace Shimizu, Campaign for Justice
Over 60 years ago, the US government perpetrated one of the worst
constitutional violations in US history against the JA community.
And it took over 40 years for the US government to grant redress
to our community: an apology letter, compensation payments and
a one-year of educational funding.
The US government wants us to believe that redress is over. And
many within our own community and the public think so because the
Japanese American redress legislation got passed and most Japanese
Americans got their apology letters and compensation checks.
But the struggle for truth and justice is still being waged. And
the US government is still fighting former internees and our community
in the courts and in the halls of Congress. The fight has even
gone international because the Japanese Latin Americans have not
found justice through the US courts.
But this chapter on WWII internment and redress is not closed.
It should not be closed. It must not be closed.
How can it be closed, when there are over 1200 Japanese Americans
and Japanese Latin Americans who have not yet received proper redress
for the violation of their constitutional and human rights. For
the Japanese Latin Americans, the violations rank as war crimes
and crimes against humanity.
And what about the $45 million in education and research funding
that the US government still owes the American people? The educational
mandate under the Japanese American redress legislation has not
been fulfilled. And we all know that today this country needs that
money for ongoing education more than ever.
We cannot let this chapter be closed. We are only now hearing
about wartime violations experienced by the German and Italian
American communities. Did you know that thousands of immigrants
and US citizens from these communities were also forcibly relocated
under EO 9066? Did you know that Germans and Italians were arrested
and interned without due process, some in the same enemy alien
camps that held Japanese Americans? And did you know that, in addition
to the 2200 Japanese Latin Americans who were kidnapped, there
were also over 4000 men, women and children of German and Italian
ancestry from Latin America who were forcibly brought to the US
for internment and hostage exchange?
This chapter on WWII internment and the struggle for redress must
not be closed because history is being repeated. This time other
communities are being scapegoated and under attack as the “enemy.” And,
once again, we see the gutting of our Constitution for both immigrants
and citizens in the name of “national security.”
So what can we do?
I’d like to tell you about an exciting event coming up which
can push forward our work for acknowledgment and redress and assist
in the preservation of our civil and human rights. Please join
us at “The Assembly
on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians” which will be held on Friday, April
8 and Saturday, April 9 at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.
This 2-day public testimonial assembly is a community expansion
of the Congressional Commission hearings held in 1981 which were
so important in establishing a historical record of the Japanese
American internment experience and which led to the passage of
the redress legislation.
The purpose of this Assembly is to document these hidden stories
of US citizens and immigrants of Japanese, German and Italian ancestry
in the US and from Latin America who have not yet received proper
acknowledgment nor redress for the violation of their civil and
human rights. We are seeking testimony from the following categories
--US citizens born in camp after the erroneous cutoff date of
the original redress legislation
--railroad and mining workers who lost jobs due to government action
and their families who were affected by the firings
--children born outside the camps whose constitutional rights were
limited by government restrictions, and
--immigrants and US citizens who were used in the prisoner exchange.
If you are one of these people, or are a relative, or perhaps
have some other experiences we have not heard about, we need your
help to complete the historical record.
We are looking for people who can make statements (both written
and spoken) about their little known wartime experiences. We are
also looking for individuals or community organizations who can
make statements about the importance of ongoing education of the
WWII internment and redress experience and its relevance to present-day
attacks on civil and human rights. And we want to particularly
outreach to our Arab, Muslim and South Asian neighbors to share
their stories with us at the Assembly, so we may understand parallels
between our WWII and post-9/11 experiences.
The Assembly proceedings will be documented, archived and accessible
to the public. Copies of the public testimonials will be submitted
to the US Congress and to an international body, the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights, for their consideration of pending
and future legislation and litigation. For more information, please
pick up an Assembly flyer.
We invite you to come and be a witness to history and to participate
in the making of history. We would appreciate any help that you
can give us, including financial contributions. Please continue
to support our redress efforts and join us at the Assembly on April
8 and April 9th in San Francisco.