Book Description from the Campaign for Justice Website
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Book Description from the PrefaceOn April 8 and 9th, 2005, the Assembly on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (AWRIC) was held at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, California. This public testimonial event highlighted the wartime experiences of immigrants of German, Italian and Japanese ancestry in the U.S. and from Latin America who were classified as "enemy aliens" during World War II. Muslim, Arab and South Asian American witnesses also spoke regarding the importance of education and dialogue about issues and lessons from the past which resonate today.
Over two days, personal testimonies and written statements were presented to review panels consisting of educators, elected officials, community leaders and representatives of the judiciary and legal profession with expertise in constitutional and human rights law. This grassroots initiative involved over 24 community organizations, more than 64 participants and scores of staff and volunteers.
The AWRIC was inspired, in part, by the landmark 1981 hearings of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC), which profoundly raised America's awareness and understanding of the World War II root causes and impact of the wartime incarceration of Americans of Japanese ancestry. Furthermore, the CWRIC hearings initiated the long overdue period of healing, recovery and rebuilding of Japanese Americans' sense of self and community. It ignited grassroots participation in the democratic process, paving the way for passage of historic redress legislation, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 (CLA).
Public education is crucial to raise awareness and to prevent recurrence of past mistakes, Despite apology letters and compensation having been granted to U.S. citizens and permanent residents of Japanese ancestry, an estimated 1,200 Japanese Americans and Japanese Latin Americans have not received equitable redress. Thousands of German and Italian Americans and Latin Americans who were affected by the wartime trauma have not been properly acknowledged nor received formal redress apology for their treatment.
On the 25th anniversary of the CWRIC hearings, this report of the Assembly on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians builds upon that legacy and addresses these unresolved issues of the World War II period. The forum provided an opportunity for the public to bear witness to the testimonies of former World War II internees, evacuees, and excludees whose wartime experiences are not widely known. These first-hand accounts serve as a historic record providing insight into the impact of prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership on both U.S. citizens and immigrants who were targeted as "the enemy." These stories reveal how U.S. citizens and aliens of German, Italian and Japanese ancestry were subjected to similar severe restrictions: seizure of personal property, forced relocation, internment, deportation and even prisoner exchanges.
As national dialogue continues over the balance between national security and civil liberties, the experiences of the past, here in America, can offer important and powerful lessons for present and future policies. This report presents to the public and to elected representatives a more inclusive portrayal of this wartime history, the impact of government policies and actions on individuals and communities, and lessons learned. Those most affected, particularly emerging immigrant communities and recently naturalized U.S. citizens, are key to America's future and must be included in the dialogue about this democracy and its ideals.
Audio-visual and written documentation of the AWRIC testimonials have been preserved at the archives of the National Japanese American Historical Society based in San Francisco, California. The AWRIC proceedings report and video are now available to the public and copies will be presented to the U.S. Congress and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (a body of the Organization of American States) as educational background information when considering pending and future legislation or other legal action.
Book Description from the Campaign for Justice WebsiteCampaign for Justice Website
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.
Background on Helen ZiaFrom Wikipedia
Helen Zia is a second generation Chinese American and an award-winning journalist and scholar who has covered Asian American communities and social and political movements for decades.
She was born in New Jersey to first generation immigrants from Shanghai. She entered Princeton University in the early 1970s and was a member of its first graduating class of women. As a student, Zia was among the founders of the Asian American Students Association. She was also a vocal anti-war activist, voicing her Opposition to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, and a firm believer in feminism.
She entered medical school in 1974, but quit in 1976. She moved to Detroit, Michigan. She went to work as a construction laborer, an autoworker and a community organizer, after which she discovered her life’s work as a journalist and writer.
She is the author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, a finalist for the prestigious Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize. President of the United States Bill Clinton quoted from Asian American Dreams at two separate speeches in the White House Rose Garden.
She is also co-author, with Wen Ho Lee, of My Country Versus Me, which reveals what happened to the Los Alamos scientist who was falsely accused of being a spy for the People's Republic of China in the “worst case since the Rosenbergs.”
Zia is former Executive Editor of Ms. Magazine. Her articles, essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, books and anthologies. She was named one of the most influential Asian Americans of the decade by A. Magazine.
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Most recent revision February 13, 2007