George Takei details hellish childhood in American prison camp

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George Takei detailed hellish childhood in American prison camp credit:Bang Showbiz
George Takei detailed hellish childhood in American prison camp credit:Bang Showbiz

George Takei has detailed his hellish childhood years spent surrounded by machine guns and barbed wire in an American prison camp.

The 'Star Trek' legend - who was born to Japanese-American parents in Sacramento, California in 1937 - was just five years old when his family were sent to an internment centre for those with Japanese heritage in 1942 after the attack on Pearl Harbour the previous year, and he's reflected on his time at the high security War Relocation Center in Tule Lake, California.

Speaking on 'The Jess Cagle Podcast with Julia Cunningham', he said: "Tule Lake ... was called the segregation camp for disloyals.It held 18,000 people ... "It became the most bristly with militarism ... It had three layers of barbed wire fences ... it had machine guns installed in the sentry towers aimed directly at us and it had a half a dozen tanks patrolling the outer perimeter ...

"Those are vehicles of warfare that belong on a battlefield - not intimidating imprisoned people that have been goaded by a series of irrational prejudiced assaults on them ... we were incarcerated in the most turbulent, most military controlled camp. There were riots there were outrages ..."

Tule Lake was one of 10 camps set up in the US to hold Japanese-Americans, many of whom were American citizens, and it operated for four years before the inmates were allowed to leave.

George, now 85, described seeing men being torn away from their families and thrown in cells.

He added: "I remember men being dragged out of their barack units with their wives or children or parents wailing, 'He's an innocent don't take him.' They would be taken away to a concrete jail cell ... "

The actor credits his father with being honest about him about those troubled years and his candid recollections inspired George to become an active campaigner on Japanese-American rights and education about the US prison camps.

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