Karen Korematsu appeared on the Feb. 18, 2013, broadcast of The Stream television show on Al Jazeera English. Karen talked about the Japanese American incarceration, Fred Korematsu’s legacy, and how the NDAA risks repeating our country’s past wrong of incarcerating Japanese Americans during World War II without due process. She was joined on the show by Carl Mayer, the attorney for the plaintiffs in Hedges v. Obama, and Mary Murakami, who as a child was incarcerated in the Topaz Camp.
David Chiu, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, today introduced a resolution at the Board of Supervisors opposing provisions of a federal law that allows the military to arrest and detain American citizens on U.S. soil without a warrant or due process.
Supervisor Chiu introduces the measure one week before Feb. 19th, the 71st anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt’s signing of an executive order allowing the government to incarcerate Americans of Japanese descent during World War II.
“By standing by and allowing the NDAA’s indefinite detention provisions to remain law of the land, we risk repeating our history of incarcerating without due process Japanese Americans during World War II,” said Chiu. “I suspect Fred Korematsu, Minoru Yasui, and Gordon Hirabayashi would be livid about this.”
Supervisors John Avalos, London Breed, David Campos, Jane Kim and Eric Mar are co-sponsoring the resolution, which is endorsed by the Coalition for Safe San Francisco and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee.
Provisions of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, authorizes the federal government to repeat the forced incarceration in the early 1940s of 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants who spent years in prisons without notice of charges, the right to an attorney, or the right to a trial.
A group of journalists and activists – including Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, and Jennifer “Tangerine” Bolen – last year filed a lawsuit, Hedges v. Obama, challenging the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA as unconstitutional.
On Dec. 17th, 2012, the families of Fred Korematsu, Minoru Yasui, and Gordon Hirabayashi filed an amicus brief in the Hedges case with in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The brief describes a terrifying parallel to the incarceration of Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II.
Under the pretense of national security, the NDAA essentially repeats the decisions in the discredited World War II cases of Korematsu, Hirabayashi, and Yasui, allowing the government to imprison people without any due process rights for an indefinite time.
The Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education is excited to celebrate Korematsu Day 2013 (http://FredKorematsuDayHeroes.org) by honoring 16 American civil rights heroes who’ve been long overlooked (see list below). This will be a historic gathering of civil rights heroes and the descendants of heroes who have passed on.
The event also features celebrity emcee DANNY GLOVER, actor, community activist and humanitarian, as well as a special performance by American Idol star and international recording artist JASMINE TRIAS.
WHEN: Sunday, January 27, 2013. 1:00pm VIP reception with honorees, 2:30-4:30pm program
WHERE: Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave. at McAllister, San Francisco, CA 94102
TICKETS: Available for purchase at: http://bit.ly/kdayheroestix
$100 VIP reception with honorees + program admission
$25 program general admission
$10 senior (65+)/student/youth (under 18) admission
If you are a Filipino WWII veteran, Japanese American WWII veteran, Internment Dissenter, or Dollar Store Striker wishing to attend, please call us at 415-848-7737 to request complimentary tickets or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. FRED KOREMATSU: Plaintiff who challenged the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans in the US Supreme Court. Karen Korematsu will represent her father at the event.
2. GRACE LEE BOGGS: Chinese American grassroots activist for pan-ethnic social justice movements. Ms. Boggs is unable to attend the event.
3. MITSUYE ENDO: Plaintiff who challenged the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans in the US Supreme Court. Wayne Tsutsumi and Wendy Weiner will represent their mother at the event.
4. FILIPINO WWII VETERANOS: Filipino soldiers who fought for the US against Japanese forces during WWII but were later denied US military benefits. Veterano Alberto Saldajeno will represent this honoree group at the event.
5. GORDON HIRABAYASHI: Plaintiff who challenged the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans in the US Supreme Court. Jay Hirabayashi will represent his father at the event.
6. INTERNMENT DISSENTERS: “No Nos,” draft resisters and renunciants who challenged the WWII incarceration and mistreatment of Japanese Americans. “No-No” Hiroshi Kashiwagi will represent this honoree group at the event.
7. LARRY ITLIONG: Filipino American organizer and coalition builder in California’s farm labor movement. Johnny Itliong will represent his father at the event.
8. JAPANESE AMERICAN WWII VETERANS: Soldiers who fought bravely in segregated WWII military units in the face of racism at home. MIS veteran Asa Hanamoto will represent this honoree group at the event.
9. YURI KOCHIYAMA: Japanese American grassroots activist for pan-ethnic social justice movements. Audee Kochiyama-Holman will represent her mother at the event.
10. QUEEN LILI‘UOKALANI: Last reigning monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii and advocate for Hawaiian sovereignty. The Queen’s descendants will not be attending the event.
11. DOLLAR STORE STRIKERS: Women labor activists who launched one of the longest-running strikes in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Mervyn Lee, son of striker Sue Ko Lee, will represent this honoree group at the event.
12. MAMIE TAPE: Chinese American child plaintiff in landmark case reinforcing equal access to education. Alisa Kim will represent her aunt at the event.
13. BHAGAT SINGH THIND: Sikh American plaintiff in US Supreme Court case examining race-based citizenship. David Bhagat Thind will represent his father at the event.
14. PHILIP VERA CRUZ: Filipino American founding member of the United Farm Workers and defender of workers’ rights. Fernando Gapasin will represent his uncle at the event.
15. WONG KIM ARK: Chinese American plaintiff in US Supreme Court case affirming birthright citizenship. Gary Wong will represent his grandfather at the event.
16. MIN YASUI: Plaintiff who challenged the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans in the US Supreme Court. Serena Hawkins-Schletzbaum and Chani Hawkins-Walker will represent their grandfather at the event.
Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP
Wells Fargo Foundation
Japanese American Citizens League – San Francisco Chapter
Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association (APAPA)
Angry Asian Man
APEX Express KPFA 94.1FM
KAXT Channel 1
New American Media
Nichi Bei Weekly
Asian American Curriculum Project (AACP)
Asian Americans for Community Outreach (AACO)
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Asian Business League – San Francisco (ABL-SF)
American Legion Cathay Post No. 384
Asian Law Alliance
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO, Alameda Chapter (APALA)
Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association
Burmese Youth Association (BYA)
Center for Asian American Media (CAAM)
Cesar Chavez Foundation
Chinese American Heroes
Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA)
Chinese Progressive Association (CPA)
Coalition of Asian American Government Employees (CAAGE)
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Filipina Women’s Network (FWN)
Filipino Advocates for Justice
Filipino American Arts Exposition
Filipino Bar Association of Northern California
Fred T. Korematsu Elementary School at Mace Ranch
Friends of Roots
Golden Gate University Law School – Asian Pacific American Law Students Association
Hawaii Chamber of Commerce of Northern California
Japanese American Citizens League – San Francisco Chapter
Japanese American Citizens League – Watsonville-Santa Cruz Chapter
Japanese Community Youth Council (JCYC)
Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC)
Korean American Bar Association of Northern California
Laotian American National Alliance (LANA)
Manilatown Heritage Foundation
Miss Asian America Pageant
Nakayoshi Young Professionals
Oakland Asian Cultural Center (OACC)
Pacific Islander Community Partnership
Richmond Area Multi-Services, Inc. (RAMS)
Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
South Asian Bar Association of Northern California
South East Asian Cultural Heritage & Music Performing Arts
Taiwanese American Citizens League – Leading Youth Forward
Taiwanese American Professionals – San Francisco (TAP-SF)
Tule Lake Committee
UC Hastings Asian Pacific American Law Students Association
Voice of Witness
The following editorial appears in the Dec. 21, 2012, edition of the San Francisco Chronicle and also online here. Special thanks to John Diaz at the Chronicle for writing this and to Dale Minami for connecting us with John on this issue.
In awarding a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to Gordon Hirabayashi in May, President Obama spoke of the courage of the University of Washington student who refused an executive order to be among the 120,000 Japanese Americans sent to internment camps during World War II. Obama expressed his admiration for Hirabayashi as a champion of civil rights.
“In Gordon’s words, ‘It takes a crisis to tell us that unless citizens are willing to stand up for the (Constitution), it’s not worth the paper it’s written on,’ ” Obama said at a White House ceremony. “And this country is better off because of citizens like him who are willing to stand up.”
The president’s words were poignant, appropriate – and in direct contradiction with his own administration’s insistence on a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that authorizes the U.S. military to indefinitely detain anyone, including American citizens, without due process if the government suspects them of supporting terrorism.
Neither Obama, his predecessor George W. Bush nor the U.S. Congress has shown a willingness to stand up for due process and civil liberties on this issue. Just this week, a House-Senate conference committee preserved the government’s ability to detain people indefinitely without trial in the latest version of the bill.
So who will stand up for the Constitution in this challenge to its cherished principles?
Count the children of Hirabayashi, Fred Korematsu and Minoru Yasui among those who see the dangers of giving government an unchecked ability to deprive Americans of their freedom in the name of national security.