Robert Matsui and his family
were interned at Tule Lake in Northern California. It was one of
the most infamous of internment camps because prisoners there frequently
held demonstrations and strikes demanding their rights under the
U.S. Constitution. As a result, it was made a “segregation
camp” where all the troublesome internees from the other camps
were sent. Tule Lake held at most 18,789, and was one of the last
camps to close on March 20, 1946. Survivors of these camps suffer
from both physical and mental pain.
"My parents' citizenship
and loyalty suddenly meant nothing."- Robert Matsui
Most internees were second
and third generation American citizens who were loyal to America.
But their loyalty were unjustly questioned as they were forced to
abandon their homes into internment camps after the Japanese bombing
of Pearl Harbor. They were not told of their crime nor given a speedy
trial by jury. In the camps, their Shinto religion was prohibited.
But moreover, they were prohibited from using the Japanese language
at public meetings. The Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation
and Internment of Civilians states that “Evacuees feared and
resented the changes forced by life in the centers, particularly
the breakdown of family authority...Children unsettlingly found
their parents as helpless as they."
Aside from mental destruction,
many internees were physically abused in these camps as well. In
addition, hospital staffs were understaffed, medical care poor,
and healthy food was scarce. In general, few internees escaped from
living in horrible and fearful conditions. Again from the Report
of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians,
innocent and mentally challenged evacuees were said to have been
shot by guards. The living conditions in the internment camps were
just unacceptable and inappropriate.