"United States Executive Order 9066 was a presidential executive order issued during World War II by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, using his authority as Commander-in-Chief to exercise war powers to send ethnic groups to internment camps."
Ironic right? The U.S was fighting to let the Jews get OUT of camps, all the while tucking away a whole ethnic group in such camps. Although the Japanese weren't subjected to gassing and backbreaking labor, they were still targeted for their ethnicity and lost everything their parents and grandparents worked for in the "Land of the Free".
"It was eventually applied to one-third of the land area of the U.S. (mostly in the West) and was used against those with "Foreign Enemy Ancestry" — Japanese, Italians, and Germans."
Keepin' a close watch on the 'Axis' I see.
But who gave America such a right to impose such harsh circumstances? "As then California Attorney General Earl Warren put it, 'When we are dealing with the Caucasian race we have methods that will test the loyalty of them. But when we deal with the Japanese, we are on an entirely different field.'"
Then again, they did get away with slavery for 200 years.
Sometimes I can't help but wonder what people had to go through just to make America such a free country. It may give its citizens much more rights than others but one cannot forget its past. To know one's past is to know one's future as the overused saying goes. I think it still hangs on the wall in my 7th grade History class, even if it is gathering dust and being avoided by the years of students sitting there and eventually repeating the mistakes of the past.
History has an odd way of repeating itself.
Yet this all ties to my city's 29th Annual Day of Remembrance, because I live in California, once home of the Internment Camps:
The Day of Remembrance commemorates the anniversary of Executive Order 9066 which led to the forced incarceration of 120,000 people of Japanese descent, two-thirds of whom were American citizens. Each year, we gather to remember that great civil liberties tragedy and each one of us reflects on what that event means to us today. The Day of Remembrance is an event that aims to bring different communities together in order to build trust, respect and understanding among all people and to renew our pledge to fight for equality, justice and peace.
This year's program, "Witness to History," features Isamu Carlos Arturo "Art" Shibayama, a local activist whose own life story reflects one of the little known facts about the internment period. >From December 1941 to February 1948, the U.S. government orchestrated and financed the mass abduction, forcible deportation and internment of 2,264 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry from 13 Latin American countries. The U.S. planned to use them as hostages in exchange for Americans held by Japan. Over 800 Japanese Latin Americans were included in two prisoner of war exchanges between the U.S. and Japan.
Arturo Shibayama was born in Peru to parents of Japanese descent. When he was 13 years old, he and his family were forcibly taken from their home in the city of Lima, loaded onto a U.S. Army transport ship and brought under armed guard to the U.S. for the purpose of hostage exchange. "In New Orleans we landed and the women and children were let off the ship first and they were marched into like a warehouse and they were ordered to strip and stand in line naked and then they were sprayed with some kind of insecticide and then after shower they were put on a train and then the men went through the same process. And that was the first time we got to see the rest of the family. We were put on the same coach and my sister says she felt so humiliated because she had to stand naked in front of boys her own age."
The Shibayama family was interned in Crystal City, Texas, for 2 1/2 years. When the Crystal City camp closed after the war's end, the Shibayama family was paroled to Seabrook Farms as cheap labor. In 1952, while still classified as an "illegal alien", Mr. Shibayama was drafted into the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany during the Korean conflict. "In the Army, one day my section leader he says, hey Art, he says how come you not a citizen? So I told him what happened to me. He says I'll get you one. My paper went to Washington, came back. I was denied. Because I didn't have a legal entry. Now how can that not be legal entry when the US brought us here forcibly?"
Since the early 1980s, Mr. Shibayama has been seeking proper acknowledgment and apology from the U.S. government for the violation of his civil and human rights. In the early 1990s, the U.S. government declared him and other Japanese Latin Americans to be ineligible for redress under the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 (which provided an apology and $20,000 compensation to interned Japanese Americans) because they were "illegal aliens" at the time of internment. Subsequent litigation on behalf of the Japanese Latin Americans resulted in the controversial Mochizuki settlement agreement, which Mr. Shibayama rejected.
Mr. Shibayama has continued to press for an apology and equitable redress as a matter of principle, through legislation, litigation and grassroots education. Not having found justice through the U.S. court system, Mr. Shibayama and his two brothers appealed to the international community by filing a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. This petition seeks to hold the U.S. government accountable for its failure to provide redress for war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Japanese Latin Americans during WWII.
Geez America, you can't even say sorry for putting a family, whom you forced to enter your country, into an interment camp and then have the balls to declare them 'illegal citizens'?