JAs launch petition to prevent fence at Tule Lake

Screenshot from “Stop the Proposed Fence at the Tulelake Municipal Airport, site of the former Tule Lake Segregation Center, California” Change.org petition

Filmmaker (“Children of the Camps” and “From a Silk Cocoon: A Japanese American Renunciation Story”) and licensed therapist Satsuki Ina has started an online petition to stop the proposed fence at the Tulelake Municipal Airport, the site of the former Tule Lake Segregation Center, where persons of Japanese descent were incarcerated during World War II.

According to the Change.org petition, the proposed three-mile-long, “eight-feet-high, barbed-wire fence would cut off Japanese American access to the site.”

The petition is calling for people to write to Modoc County by Tuesday, Oct. 10 at 5 p.m. PDT to express their opposition to the construction of the fence, which will “close off an airport that sits on two-thirds of the former concentration camp site. If built, it will permanently close off access to the barracks area where most people lived. A national civil rights site will be irreparably damaged.”

More than a year ago, the Nichi Bei Weekly reported that the Tule Lake Committee and stakeholders had been in discussions regarding the local airport’s proposal to build an expansion in the middle of the former Tule Lake Segregation Center. Stakeholders included, among others, the committee, the Federal Aviation Administration, Modoc County, the airport owners, and businesses that rely upon the airport, such as the farmers, fertilizer companies and the chemical companies used in crop dusting.

The Nichi Bei Weekly reported that in 2013, the committee gathered hundreds of signatures and letters to temporarily halt the construction of a proposed fence.

According to the petition, “they say a fence is necessary to protect the site from wildlife, but birds are the major form of wildlife at the airport and a fence is ineffective in preventing bird strikes.”

More than 24,000 persons of Japanese descent were incarcerated at Tule Lake during the war.

The petition, which will be delivered to Modoc County Board of Supervisors Chair Geri Byrne, is encouraging supporters to contact Modoc County via e-mail or social media.

Some 120,000 persons of Japanese descent were forcibly removed from their homes and unjustly incarcerated in U.S. concentration camps during World War II.

In 1943, the government decided that Japanese Americans, even those who were being imprisoned, could volunteer for military service. The War Department and the War Relocation Authority created a so-called “loyalty” test (which was eventually expanded to include all persons of Japanese ancestry 17 years old and older).

Two questions in particular, caused controversy and confusion for many:

“Question 27: Are you willing to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?

“Question 28: Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance to the Japanese emperor or any other foreign government, power or organization?”

Many who responded “no-no” to Questions 27 and 28, including those who refused to respond to those two questions, were sent to the Tule Lake, Calif. WRA camp to separate the “disloyal” from the “loyal” prisoners. Some of the so-called “disloyal” families were deported to Japan.

For more information, visit http://ow.ly/VILn30ftE2W.

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