FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JAPANESE AMERICAN ACTIVISTS HOLD NATIONAL DAY OF ACTIONTO RELEASE ALL IMMIGRANTS IN DETENTION FACING THREAT OF COVID-19
Tsuru For Solidarity Joins Detention Watch Network’s #FreeThemAll Campaign by sharing stories of Japanese American history of illness in WWII U.S. concentration camps
WHO: Tsuru For Solidarity, Detention Watch Network, La Resistencia
WHEN: March 24 – 27, 2020
VISUALS: Images of Japanese American families affected by disease and infection during their incarceration during WWII; newspaper and media clippings discussing spread of disease in WWII U.S. concentration camps; photos and videos of Japanese American survivors sharing stories about their families who lived through camp epidemics, including the following online discussion on 3/25 at 8pm: https://bit.ly/contagion-in-the-camps-video
WHAT: Tsuru For Solidarity is joining Detention Watch Network’s #FreeThemAll campaign to release immigrants in ICE detention to prevent migrant jails from becoming epicenters of COVID-19 spread. In doing so, Tsuru For Solidarity will share stories of how illness and disease in the WWII camps impacted Japanese Americans, and why this history is relevant in today’s ICE jails. The stories will be shared from Tuesday, March 24 to Friday, March 27, including during an online discussion with Maru Mora Villalpando of La Resistencia, Bárbara Suarez Galeano of Detention Watch Network, and Carl Takei of Tsuru For Solidarity. The week will culminate in a National Day of Action on Friday, March 27, 2020, to drive phone calls to urge officials to close the camps and release all people so they can find safety – not sickness – in this moment.
“Sickness was a familiar way of life for many of us inside the prison camp during WWII. Due to the overcrowding and substandard health care, we were subjected to significantly higher rates of communicable diseases that included tuberculosis, polio, and typhoid. We suffered repeated epidemics of scarlet fever and flu.”-Satsuki Ina,Co-Chair of Tsuru for Solidarity and Tule Lake Concentration Camp Survivor.
The history of Japanese American incarceration during WWII makes clear that detention facilities are breeding grounds for the spread of disease and infection. Outbreaks in World War II U.S. concentration camps included a polio epidemic at Amache; dysentery, mumps, and valley fever at Gila River; and measles and chicken pox at Tule Lake. Poorly equipped hospitals and inadequate medical staff only exacerbated these problems. Imprisoning individuals in such conditions was inhumane then, and it is inhumane now.
Despite drastic steps taken by other government agencies to contain the spread of COVID-19, ICE and many other law enforcement agencies are going on with business as usual. According to the Los Angeles Times, ICE agents are continuing to arrest immigrants, including a 56-year old man who is the sole breadwinner for his family; the agents arrested him when he left his home to work and buy groceries that would have prepared his family for coronavirus lockdowns. And while a number of sheriffs and police departments are wisely responding to community pressure and public health guidance by rampingdown enforcement of low-level offenses, many are continuing to book people into jail even for minor misconduct.
Tsuru for Solidarity (tsuruforsolidarity.org) is a nonviolent, direct action project of Japanese American advocates working to end detention sites and support front-line immigrant and refugee communities being targeted by racist, inhumane immigration policies. We stand on the moral authority of Japanese Americans who suffered great injustices in U.S. concentration camps during WWII, and we say, “Stop Repeating History!”
Due to COVID-19, for health and safety reasons, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the June 5th-7th National Pilgrimage to Close the Camps in Washington, D.C. We also are postponing the Caravan to Close the Camps.
You will receive a full refund of your registration fee unless you choose to convert it into a donation, as described below. If you registered by EventBrite, a credit will be issued back to your original payment method (less the additional $11 fee collected by EventBrite) by May 1, 2020. For those who paid by check, we will reissue a check for your registration fee. Alternatively, you may choose to convert your registration fee into a donation to support Tsuru for Solidarity’s ongoing work and help us cover expenses from this unexpected postponement, by filling in your information here by March 31.
Answers to additional logistical questions will shortly be posted in the “Frequently Asked Questions” on the Pilgrimage to Close the Camps page. Postponement does not mean we will fall silent. Prison camps are places where people are acutely vulnerable to health complications and disease outbreaks — something we know all too well from the World War II WRA concentration camps. In this context, we are gravely concerned how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact people in ICE custody. Tsuru for Solidarity is therefore joining Detention Watch Network and other organizations to call for ICE to take immediate steps to protect the health and safety of immigrants during this pandemic, including by ending current detention of immigrants and ceasing local ICE enforcement operations.The dates we had planned to march in DC, June 5-6, 2020, will be a national weekend of physically distanced but socially unified Tsuru for Solidarity actions across the country. We are also developing additional regional and national strategies to deepen and expand our work to close the camps and support directly affected communities. Please stay tuned for more information about our revised plans.
Finally, please know that your donations and contributions toward building Tsuru for Solidarity’s community are important and deeply appreciated. We are grateful for your generosity of spirit, time, activism, and folding of cranes to support immigrant and refugee communities today. As one of our supporters wrote to us, “COVID-19 is forcing everyone to acknowledge on some level our shared fate, our mutual responsibilities and our need for a safe, humane world.”In solidarity and with our sincere wishes for everyone’s health and safety,
Tsuru for Solidarity
125,000 paper cranes to DC in June 2020 for Tsuru for Solidarity’s
“National Pilgrimage to Close the Camps”
From Tsuru For Solidarity’s Press Release:
Japanese Americans from across the country will gather next spring in Washington, D.C. on June 5-7, 2020 for a “National Pilgrimage to Close the Camps.” We plan to bring 125,000 paper cranes, or tsuru, as expressions of solidarity with immigrant and refugee communities that are under attack today. The 125,000 cranes represent the members of our community who were rounded up and incarcerated in U.S. concentration camps during World War II, including both Japanese Americans and Japanese Latin Americans.
Standing on the moral authority of our own unjust incarceration, the protest will demand that no matter where someone came from or how they arrived to the United States, they be treated with dignity and respect. We will stand with immigrant communities to condemn the policies that dehumanize them, including ICE detention; jailing and separation of parents, families and children; and the Muslim ban.
The planning is being led by Tsuru for Solidarity, a nonviolent, direct action project of Japanese American social justice advocates. “We expect this to be the largest gathering of Nikkei since World War II, when we were forcibly removed from our homes and incarcerated in U.S. concentration camps,” said Mike Ishii, one of the lead organizers.
Fold-ins: We invite supporters to organize local “Tsuru Fold-Ins” to bring tsuru to Washington, D.C., or mail them to us by May 1, 2020. Details, including where to send tsuru, are available on our website: www.tsuruforsolidarity.org.
Fundraising: We are actively raising funds to help cover the substantial costs of the caravan, protest, and healing circles. Our goal is to raise $125,000 in individual contributions: one dollar for each member of our community who was rounded up and incarcerated during World War II. To reach this goal, we ask that 1,000 people step forward to contribute at least $125.
Additionally, thanks to the generosity of Gerry and Gail Nanbu, all donations made until December 1, 2019 will be matched, up to $25,000. Mr. and Mrs. Nanbu write, “This match challenge is made in remembrance of our families, whose courage and resilience in the face of adversity has taught us to stand up for justice.”
Our fiscal sponsor, Densho, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so all donations are tax-deductible. Please visit https://tsuruforsolidarity.org/give/ for more information and to contribute.
Program: The three-day program in Washington, DC will include:
Friday, June 5: A Japanese American community gathering and preparation for the following day’s march and rally.
Saturday, June 6: A mass public solidarity march and rally, led by World War II camp survivors and descendants, with paper cranes and taiko drumming. This event will be open to the public.
Sunday, June 7: Cross-community, intergenerational “Healing Circles for Change.” These small- group sessions will build solidarity across communities and promote healing through sharing personal stories of incarceration and detention. They will be organized by Dr. Satsuki Ina, an expert on intergenerational trauma. Participation will be limited to those who register in advance.
Additionally, in the days preceding the D.C. program, a caravan of buses will leave from Los Angeles and other locations. These buses will carry a smaller group of activists to World War II concentration camp sites and present-day immigrant detention sites, where they will join in solidarity with local activists who are leading efforts to shut down these sites. The caravan will then join the larger group in Washington, D.C. We are also working to schedule meetings with members of Congress while the caravan is en route.
For updates and registration information: Please sign up on our email list (opt in on our website, www.tsuruforsolidarity.org) to be notified about registration for the Pilgrimage. Information about lodging and other costs will be provided when registration opens in early 2020.
Partners and endorsing organizations: Current endorsers and partners include: Densho; Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) National; JACL Chicago; Portland JACL; Japanese Community Youth Council; Japanese Americans for Justice; Japanese American Service Committee (Chicago); Karen Korematsu and the Fred T. Korematsu Institute; Manzanar Committee; Minami Tamaki LLP; Minoru Yasui Legacy Project; National Japanese American Historical Society; New York Day of Remembrance Committee; Nikkei Progressives; Oregon Nikkei Endowment; Peggy Saika; and Tule Lake Committee.
We invite partners nationwide to join the DC action by lending their name, organizing fold-ins, sending members, and raising funds to support the action. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to add your organization’s name and support.