On May 12th, 1942 guards at Ft. Sill shot and killed Kanesaburo Oshima, a father of 11 from Hawaii, in the back of the head at the gates where 700 Japanese men, including 90 Buddhist priests, were held in the US Army WWII prison camp.
On July 20th, 25 priests returned to perform a memorial ceremony.
Paper crane ceremony by @TsuruSolidarity dedicated to those who lost their life inside detention centers, including the Japanese-American father who was shot at the gates when it was used as an internment camp during WWI. #CloseTheCamps pic.twitter.com/u2EMAk8jhD— Jessica I. Vazquez (@JIVazquezOK) July 20, 2019
They arrived in response to an open letter Rev. Duncan Ryuken Williams, Author of American Sutra, published after Tsuru for Solidarity gathered at the Fort last month. Rev. Williams explains
“For us Buddhist clergy, the horrific situation faced by the migrant children about to be transferred to Fort Sill prompts us to recall a time when the site was an internment camp for the Japanese during WWII.
Of the 700 interned in Oklahoma, 90 were Buddhist priests rounded up by the government in the wake of Pearl Harbor.
They wrote about their time at Fort Sill living in outdoor tents in windy heat without soap or toothpaste. Three men died in this camp in May 1942, two killed by guards. Buddhist priests are gathered on this occasion to remember the past and pray for a future so that history doesn’t repeat itself and that American belonging is free from racial and religious animus.”
The ceremony closed a day of action at Ft. Sill where nearly 500 people gathered from Tsuru For Solidarity, joined Dream Action Oklahoma, United We Dream, AIM Indian Territory, Indigenous Environmental Network, About Face Veterans Against War, Black Lives Matter OK and more to protest plans to make the military base the next prison camp to jail up to 1,400 migrant children.
Before it imprisoned Japanese men in WWII, Fort Sill served as an end point of the Trail of Tears for indigenous people forced to march on foot from their lands and became a boarding school forcing assimilation upon their youth.
As Indigenous peoples we carry the generational trauma from the atrocities that happened to our people for over twenty years in the late 1800’s at Ft. Sill.— Indigenous Environmental Network (@IENearth) July 20, 2019
We are demanding Governor Stitt refuse to help ICE continue to lock up families and children in Oklahoma.
Together the groups marched to the fort’s gate and kneeled in silence as the priests chanted the Heart Sutra and hung a lei from Mr. Oshima’s family on the artillery at the entrance.
As protesters knelt and blocked the road into Ft. Sill, 25 Buddhist priests chanted #heartsutra there in memory of Kanesaburo Oshima, who was shot to death by Fort Sill guards in World War II. /3 https://t.co/Wh5ejgakhy pic.twitter.com/GgUmdVQLXY— Tsuru For Solidarity (@TsuruSolidarity) July 21, 2019
Priests also left a lei that Mr. Oshima’s family sent from Hawaii for this ceremony. The lei was hung on the barrel of the artillery piece at Ft. Sill’s Bentley Gate--a deliberate reference to the gun that guards used to kill Mr. Oshima. /4 pic.twitter.com/y1vJuXn6oq— Tsuru For Solidarity (@TsuruSolidarity) July 21, 2019