DOR Panel to Examine Parallels Between JA Incarceration and Present-Day Issues

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“Behind Barbed Wire: Keeping Children Safe and Families Together” is theme for the Los Angeles Day of Remembrance (DOR) 2019, a program supporting civil rights for everyone, scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), 100 N. Central Ave. in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo.

The DOR is held annually to commemorate President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942, which resulted in the unjust incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans and their immigrant parents in American concentration camps and other confinement sites during World War II.

Brian Niiya

The DOR program will include LA Taiko Ichiza, dramatic performances and a panel discussion that will examine the parallels between Japanese American incarceration and present-day issues surrounding immigration.

“We recount how the Japanese American community made our government take belated responsibility for the concentration camps,” stated June Hibino of Nikkei Progressives. “Our government’s policies in Central America, the demand for drugs here and resulting drug wars helped create the poverty and violent conditions forcing thousands to flee. We demand the government acknowledge its responsibility and enact a just and compassionate immigration policy, instead of separating children from parents and imprisoning families in conditions in which children have died.”

“Progressive Asian Network for Action (PANA) supports the Day of Remembrance to take a stand for the civil rights of immigrants,” said Vivian Matsushige. “Separating children from their families and incarcerating them is similar to the treatment Japanese Americans during WWII. PANA not only condemns the atrocities by Trump but seeks positive proactive legislation for immigrants, such as an immediate path to citizenship, a ‘clean’ DREAM act, immediate reunification of families stuck in courts, the end to deportation of Asian former prisoners and mutually beneficial foreign policies that would not drive workers out of their countries in order to survive.”

Lisa Okamoto

The panel, which will be moderated by Brian Niiya, content director of Densho, will include Leticia Bustamante, project coordinator at the UCLA Labor Center and DACA recipient; queer, undocumented, South Asian femme and filmmaker Amritpal Kaur, who is studying psychology and queer studies at CSU Northridge and is the co-founder of the new multimedia platform Brown Girl Joy; Lisa Okamoto, Immigrant and Legal Defense Center; Reshma Shamasunder, vice president of program strategy at Asian Americans Advancing Justice and board member of the California Immigrant Policy Center-Los Angeles; and Sigrid Toye, practitioner of educational/behavior therapy, who holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is a board member of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition.

Organizers of the Los Angeles DOR 2019 are: Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC), Japanese American Citizens League-Pacific Southwest District, JANM, Kizuna, Manzanar Committee, Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress, Nikkei Progressives, Organization of Chinese Americans-Greater Los Angeles, and PANA.

“Kizuna is proud to join the organizing committee of the Los Angeles Day of Remembrance program,” Kizuna’s Scott Shima added. “It is vital that we continue community education efforts bringing this story to the next generation, preserving the legacy of the World War II incarcerees and those who fought for redress, so that this troubling time in history is never repeated.”

LA Taiko Ichiza

“With the passage of Executive Order 9066, racism, fear, and greed were allowed to surface above our nation’s commitment to its core value of equal protection under the law. The Go For Broke National Education Center is committed to educating and inspiring people to act with equality and courage in life everyday so that this dark history is never repeated,” concluded Andie Kimura, representing GFBNEC.

The event is open to the public with “pay what you wish” admission to the museum. Those wishing to attend are asked to RSVP at http://www.janm.org/DOR. For more information, call (213) 625-0414.

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