Wednesday, December 10, is the 60th anniversary of the International Declaration of Human Rights. This morning was the last organizing meeting and things are coming together in a "here and there" way. The "Winnemem Way of Life" video will start out the celebration, but who will introduce it? The Native American Law Student Association participant, Erin, is in the middle of her finals. The Juventud Faceta youth have finished their video on the Human Rights Article regarding torture. We all looked like pleased aunties watching their finished product. I'm sure they wouldn't appreciate how very cute we thought they were -- despite the seriousness of the topic. We were very proud of them.
The mariachi band* is ready. The Cantor's prayer is a go. We need to find out the name of Robby's drum. We always called it "Robby's Drum" but I'm sure that's not it. All of us nervously eyeballed the program. Are our organizations listed? Spelled right? Did our piece get listed in the program?
Tonight I tried to get ahold of Anselmo. Did he do the poster? Marcy is busy finishing the Winnemem one, the lettering, photos of ceremony. I've put the historical documents, the UN Declaration of Rights for Indigenous Peoples, Most Asked Questions." Just in case, better be prepared for the PACAlliance poster. YIKES! Can't find the file for Campaign for Justice. Quick SOS email to Christine Oh, Portland who sends me lots of attachments. I love email! Typing away, "RENDITION during WWII!"
Did you know about the Rendition Tradition of the US of A? I didn't. The many stories of JA's during WWII keep being disclosed one by one. Here's one for you. Between December, 1941, and February, 1945, the US government financed and planned the kidnapping of 2,300 men women and children of Japanese ancestry from 13 Latin American countries for the purpose of prisoner exchange. They were unlawfully imprisoned in the US without due process until the end of the war. More than 800 of them were exchanged and sent to a country in the middle of a war. The US gave monies, grants, sort of, to countries who complied with incarcerating or sending their Japanese population to US prisoner of war camps -- even though the Nikkei were not part of an enemy country.
More than 350 Japanese Latin Americans remained in the US and eventually became legal permanent residents thanks to the ACLU and naturalized citizens. They should have been covered by the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 which provided compensation to each JA deprived of liberty during the war. It gets weirder. However, the US argued they were "illegal aliens" at the time -- since the US had confiscated their passports while they were still on the boat. Odd that their argument is based on a human rights violation.
A person I greatly admire, my friend Grace Shimizu, says "With our legislative efforts, we hope that the US Congress will grant such redress as is commensurate with the scope and severity of the constitutional and human rights violations: including kidnapping; indefinite internment without charge, trial or legal representation; hard labor; putting civilians in war zone through hostage exchange; ongoing failure to provide redress. These are violations at the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity." It is Grace who put the name Rendition on this shameful page of WWII history.
Representative Xavier Becerra introduced the Japanese Latin American Redress Equity Commission bill in 2007 in the House and Senator Inouye introduced it in the Senate. The hearing on HR662 was cancelled. It had been scheduled for July 31. The committee parliamentarian for the Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties ruled that the bill was in the wrong subcommittee. HR662 was referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law chaired by Rep Zoe Lofgren (San Jose district) who says there is no time for a hearing. We ask supporters, especially those who reside in Lofgren's district, to urge her to make HR662 a priority by scheduling a Subcommittee hearing. Please sign the petition at http://citizenspeak.org/node/1332.
It's almost midnight. Erin just emailed she would be happy to introduce the film and happy to be a part of Winnemem Support. Robby's drum is Spirit Hawk. Found a bad typo on my JLA piece. Anselmo hasn't called yet.
This is Eugene's style -- all these groups weaving something together. We cannot do anything separately. There are not enough of us in each of our communities. All of us are parts of each others' struggles but each of our organizations for one day, December 10, seem to be 30 separate groups. I guess that's a good thing.
*Mariachi band was organized by the Springfield High School band teacher, Chris Holt. It is the only high school mariachi band in this area. Chris is one of my students from Madison Middle School. I am so very very proud of him for forming a mariachi band, to see the possibilities, to encourage the next generation's leadership, to make school fun. He is a great teacher! The Mariachi band has been invited to play in Disneyland.
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