Contact: Michelle Loo, firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington, DC - Today marks 20 years since we lost 3,000 people on September 11, 2001. APALA mourns for those lives lost, and for the livelihoods of Chinese immigrants and other poor and working class communities in lower Manhattan. We also reflect on the growth of the War on Terror and its devastating impact on Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian American (AMEMSA) communities.
The Patriot Act and The Homeland Security Act of 2002, which created ICE, were subsequently passed in Congress. By declaring a War on Terror, George Bush and his successors justified overreaching surveillance programs and ever expanding detention and deportation systems. This meant that FBI agents went undercover in community spaces such as Mosques and Muslim community centers, and community leaders were coerced to reveal information about neighbors and community members. It has also meant that the rates of deportations have skyrocketed, targeting not only Asian immigrants but also immigrants from Latin America and Africa.
APALA Executive Director Alvina Yeh stated, “In the AMEMSA community, many will say they remember life before 9/11 and life after 9/11. Hate crimes increased and racist and xenophobic policies were immediately codified into the United States law. These last 20 years have taught us to be critical of calls for safety and security that increase state violence, to be suspicious of tactics that try to divide us as good or bad immigrants, and to be prepared to protect one another in a crisis, such as the one Afghans are facing now. As we learn more about the War on Terror and it’s far reaching hands into Black and Brown communities, we become resolute in our solidarity with one another against militarism, incarceration, detention, and deportation.”
The Asian American Leaders Table, a coalition APALA is part of issued a joint statement which stated, “Asian Americans can do much more to advocate for the rights of South Asians, Muslim, Sikh and Arab Americans. This means that we pay close attention to our own rhetoric and messages to avoid falling into stereotypical language or national security justifications. It means that we do not compromise on the rights of Muslim, Arab, South Asian and Sikh communities in advocating for public policies. It means incorporating the histories and perspectives of communities targeted in the wake of 9/11 within Asian American movement curricula and political education. It means recognizing that we are working against a shared source of oppression, and finding the commonalities and connections between the Islamophobia that profiled Muslims in the aftermath of 9/11 to the xenophobia that incarcerated Japanese Americans during World War II to the racism that’s driving the rise in anti-Asian violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Read the full statement signed by over 60 organizations.
Organizations like South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), Sikh Coalition, and the Council on Arabic-Islamic Relations (CAIR) are strong building movements. One of the purposes of SAALT is to, “help build community infrastructure for South Asians so that the next time a crisis struck, we would have a network in place to come together and organize, act, and advocate for ourselves and our rights.” Join us in the movement for liberation by becoming supporters of SAALT, Sikh Coalition, and CAIR.