MPAC Joins Japanese American Community in Supporting Repeal of 1942 Internment Resolution

Los Angeles, CA: On June 6 the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) joined the Japanese American community in speaking in favor of and supporting the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimous decision to repeal the 1942 resolution to intern Japanese Americans.

SEE: “L.A. County Board Repeals Support of WWII Japanese Internment” (CNN)

MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati joined Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and a long list of speakers in addressing the Board in correcting this historic wrong.

“It’s our sacred duty to protect one another; this is what it means to be a true American and a true human being,” Al-Marayati said. “The Japanese American community came out politically, and figuratively, after 9/11 in support of the Muslim American community to make sure what happened to them didn’t happen to us. Unfortunately, we still have to deal with the problems of indefinite detention, and this resolution is a reminder that though it is about the past, it is also about the present and the future.”

The motion to repeal continues to heal an episode of American history that is universally seen as unjust and cruel.

The mass imprisonments were ordered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt through Executive Order 9066. What followed was one of the most embarrassing episodes of World War II, as the US held prisoners in internment camps without cause besides racial prejudice. The internment of Japanese Americans reached 120,000 in number, and one-third of those detained 70 years ago came from Los Angeles.

Nine detention camps were used to intern individuals and entire families, with Manzanar in California being one of the largest of those camps. Many Japanese Americans were held for up to three years, and were released only because the war ended. The scars that it left on the community are still present today.

In February, MPAC cosponsored “The Day of Remembrance,” an annual community event hosted by the Japanese American Museum to commemorate the 1942 anniversary of the signing of EO 9066. In April, MPAC joined more than 2,000 people for the 43rd Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage in honor of those who were interned.

At the hearing, George Takei, who famously played Mr. Sulu on the TV series “Star Trek,” spoke about his time in the internment camps. Takei recalled being five years old and being forcefully escorted from his home. He was then held in a horse stall at the Santa Anita Park, a current-day race track, which was used as a temporary internment camp. A few months later, he was sent to internment camps in Arkansas and Tulelake, CA.

“My mother remembers it as the most degrading, humiliating experience she ever had in her life,” Takei said to CNN. “She didn’t know the other humiliations that were going to follow.“

ALSO SEE: George Takei’s Full Testimony before the Board of Supervisors (Vimeo)

Unfortunately, indefinite detention still is a reality today, as the isolation and condemnation of a community based on race, religion and ethnicity continues. Today’s resolution repeal is a glimmer of hope that we can correct the mistakes of the past and move forward to working together to find justice and peace.

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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