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Jul-10-2012 16:45printcomments

Friends of Minidoka Deeply Disappointed by Court's Decision

Idaho History Groups Disheartened by Idaho Supreme Court Decision Sanctioning Factory Farm at WWII Japanese American Incarceration Site

Incarcerated Americans of Japanese origin from the west coast being offloaded at Minidoka internment camp in Idaho.
Incarcerated Americans of Japanese origin from the west coast being offloaded at Minidoka internment camp in Idaho.

(TWIN FALLS, ID) - The Friends of Minidoka, Dimond Family, and Idaho Concerned Area Residents for the Environment are deeply disappointed by the Idaho Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a permit for a factory farm operation that poses major hazards to Minidoka National Historic Site (Minidoka) and surrounding families. As an incarceration facility for Japanese American citizens during World War II, Minidoka is an important part of local and national history.

The coalition remains deeply concerned about the ramifications that a confined animal feeding operation, or “CAFO,” would create at Minidoka and surrounding farms. The court challenge first arose after the Jerome County Board of Commissioners (Board) voted to approve an application for (CAFO) permit a mile upwind from Minidoka on September 23, 2008. It included support from prominent national groups, such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which named Minidoka one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places in 2007. In the summer of 2010, Judge Elgee of Jerome County District Court denied the challenger’s petition for judicial review. That decision was appealed in early 2011.

The Minidoka Relocation Center, a World War II internment camp for Japanese Americans and their immigrant ancestors, operated from August 1942 to October 1945, housing 13,000 Japanese Americans from Washington, Oregon and Alaska on a 33,000-acre site with over 600 buildings. Designated a National Monument in 2001, under the auspices of the National Park Service, the site, visited annually by thousands, tells stories about wartime division and subsequent post war unification and settlement. In 2008, Congress passed legislation to expand Minidoka and call it a National Historic Site.

“The Friends of Minidoka is saddened to hear the verdict today,” says Hanako Wakatsuki, Chairperson of FOM. “We are large supporters of the agricultural industry in Jerome County and believe preservation at Minidoka can take place at the same time, but only if farming operations are planned in a way that recognize public uses.”

Charlie Tebbutt, coalition lawyer, says, "The Idaho Supreme Court's extremely narrow reading reading of the law effectively eliminates the rights of people to protect themselves and their property from the scourge of industrial animal production facilities, such as the one proposed by South View. It is a sad day for the rights of Japanese Americans who suffered the indignities of being sequestered during World War II to be told that they have no standing to protect the National Historic Site at which their and their ancestors' civil liberties were denied."

The Friends of Minidoka is a non-profit organization which engages in and supports education, upholds the legacy of those incarcerated and the incarceration experience, supports research, and promotes alliances with organizations and entities with common objectives, specifically, but not limited to the National Park Service. We honor the legacy of those incarcerated and the incarceration experience, thus promote site preservation.

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COLLI July 10, 2012 7:08 am (Pacific time)

While it is important to remember the many good things our government has done in the past, it is equally important to remember the mistakes and the bad things it has done. In my opinion, allowing this factory farm to become active indicates a willingness and even a desire to forget past mistakes made and wrongs done. What message is being sent by our government and our court systems when such an injustice as was perpetrated on the U.S. citizens interred at Minidoka is ultimately forced to the back of the bus? We gladly throw stones at almost every country in the world for human rights violations. The result of this decision will almost certainly lessen the importance of recognizing and admitting to our own past transgressions. This is a mistake that sends a message to the world and our own youth that what was done to the 13,000 U.S. citizens is somehow of less importance than it really should be.

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