January/March 2005 No.134

Municipal Employee Urged to Retire Due to Buraku Origin

Mr. A is a municipal employee working in Tachibana Town Hall. Over the past two years, he has been harassed by an unidentified culprit through a series of discriminatory post-cards urging him to retire due to his Buraku origin.

In the seventh post-card sending addressed to Mr. A on March 14, 2005, the culprit threatened him by stating, "I have been advising you to be careful." The culprit also sent a postcard to his boss on the same day stating, "As you have not yet discharged him, I have taken some measures," implying that he done something. Two days earlier on March 11, somebody broke into the house of Mr. A while nobody was home and ransacked it, taking money and some belongings. The involvement of the harasser is unconfirmed.

The Tachibana Branch of the BLL has extended full support to Mr. A and organized a denunciation struggle in cooperation with the Chikugo Regional Council in Fukuoka. Tachibana Town and Mr. A have taken the case to Yame Police Station. The municipal government, the municipal council, a parents association and other groups in the town have also announced their own statements of protest.

On the evening of March 28, 403 people gathered at a town public hall to participate in a rally entitled "We Stand Against Discrimination ? Rally of the Town People," organized by Tachibana Human Rights/ Dowa Education Council, headed by the town mayor, Mr. Tanaka. Mr. A appeared before the participants to urge them to take action in combating discrimination. He said, "I hope that your anger at these cruel discriminatory acts will develop into a loud voice and be heard by the culprit. I have been full of anxiety and anger. The culprit has been slowly getting closer and closer to me. Somebody broke into my house the other day, and now I feel real danger, not only to myself, but also my children. I am overwhelmed with anxiety and fear." He continued, "Discrimination threatens human life. Taking no actions is equal to an acceptance of discrimination. If we fail to take action, then we will be killed by discrimination. By telling people the truth and encouraging them to stand up, we may be able to eliminate discrimination. Your actions that arise out of anger will be transformed into warmth and light. Let us walk together to eradicate Buraku discrimination and all other forms of discrimination!"

On behalf of the rally organizer, Mayor Tanaka stated, "This incident is immoral and humiliating. I again ask all of you to fully understand the reality of the incident and to make efforts to involve all other people in our town to stand together. I sincerely hope that today's rally marks the first step in our efforts to develop a community where everyone can live in dignity and safety." He also disclosed that the police were going to investigate into the recent postcards implication of a possible crime.

In the following speech, Mr. Kumisaka, the deputy secretary of the Chikugo Regional Council of the BLL, disclosed that the culprit has sent 15 postcards on seven different occasions since December 2003 to Mr. A and his boss in the town hall, urging them to fire Mr. A. He also pointed out that these acts constituted incitement of discrimination in employment and marriage, denial of human rights education and even threatening life.

From the floor, Mr. U raised his hand and shared his experiences with the participants. Eight years ago, he was also harassed by a series of postcards which were sent to him when he lived in Tachibana town. Due to this, he was forced to leave his hometown. He encouraged the audience by saying that, "I am ashamed of having escaped from the town without facing up to the discrimination. I wonder if the discrimination that is occurring now would have not occurred if I had been brave enough to stand up. Now, I will respond to discrimination in my own way to eradicate it. I ask each of you to think what you can do to confront discrimination, and work together with me and all others in doing so."

Mr. K, the former boss of Mr. U, also stood before the audience and said, "I have to admit with regret that I did not do anything to stop Mr. U from leaving the town eight years ago. I failed to take collective action. I did not have much strength. Looking back at the past, I am keenly aware of that fact." He also revealed that he was from a Buraku area, and expressed his determination by saying, "If the sender of the postcards is here, I want to ask him/her why you have written to only two of these people. You should also write to me. I will accept your challenge." He concluded, "To all of those who are in the same position as me, let us clearly proclaim the irrationality of discrimination."