For Immediate Release – April 16, 2005
AMV offers heart felt condolences
on the passing of Fred Korematsu
It is a great loss for human & civil rights movement
American Muslim Voice, a grassroots national organization dedicated to protecting civil rights through community building, has offered condolences on the recent death of Fred Korematsu. A former internee during World War II and a 1998 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, Fred Korematsu remained a tireless advocate for human and civil rights.
An ordinary husband, father, and grandfather but an extraordinary human being, his dauntless spirit led him to challenge the legality of Executive Order 9066, the legal order that directed the internment of over 120,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry through battles with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and eventually the Supreme Court.
Several years later, after his vindication and during the dark days that followed the attacks of 9/11, Fred Korematsu spoke out against the racial discrimination and profiling of Muslim Americans at numerous gatherings and community forums, quickly recognizing the INS registrations as dangerous to the civil liberties of Americans of all races, religions and ethnic backgrounds.
AMV shares in the opinion stated by Stewart David Ikeda, author and editor of Asian American Village, an on line journal at IM Diversity.com, who described Fred Korematsu eloquently as “a resister of the heart,” who fought the illegality of internment not out of “lofty legal principle or religious conviction,” but “to preserve the human connections and affections that matter so much in our personal lives.”
We at the AMV are saddened at the loss of this ordinary man who set an extraordinary example by breaking the silence and leading the fight for justice everywhere. The AMV offers its sincere condolences to the Korematsu family and the Japanese American community. May we all learn lessons taught by Mr. Korematsu and be inspired by his example to speak out in the name of human values of brotherhood, love and acceptance and to act as witnesses to the triumph of the human spirit through building strong communities.
AMV's Executive Director, Samina Faheem Sundas stated that we ( Muslim community) can learn a lot from Mr. Korematsu's courage and dedication to protect constitutional rights for him as well as his community. He was amongst one of the first few who broke the silence against profiling after 9/11 and offered his services to help the targeted communities.
Brief bio of Korematsu: Korematsu was born in Oakland, CA, in 1919 to a Japanese-American family that owned a flower nursery. After World War II broke out, Japanese living in Pacific states were subject to curfews, and later sent to internment camps. Korematsu refused to go to an internment camp. In 1942 he was arrested and sent to a camp. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld his conviction in 1944 on the grounds of military necessity. In 1983, Korematsu appealed his conviction. Later that year a federal court in San Francisco overturned the conviction, stating that the government's case at the time had been based on false, misleading, and racially biased information. In 1988 Congress passed legislation apologizing for the internments and awarded each survivor $20,000. Fred Korematsu died on March 30, 2005.