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- In response to the Chicago Tribune: Rasmea Odeh is a survivor of sexual torture
Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Minnesota condemns the charges brought against Palestinian community leader Rasmea Odeh of Chicago. Her October 22nd arrest by agents of the Department of Homeland Security can be seen as nothing less than an attempt to silence her voice decrying the oppression of and demanding justice for the people of Palestine. The charges brought against her claim that she failed to properly document an arrest 45 years ago by Israeli military authorities, which routinely deny Palestinians due process, legal rights, human rights and justice daily. This outrageous charge seeks to imprison her for up to ten years, strip her of American citizenship and ultimately deport her upon her release from prison.
This is undoubtedly a vicious political attack related to her longstanding activism on behalf of the cause of justice for the Palestinian people. This case is certainly related to those of fellow activists of the Anti-War 23. The Anti-War 23 were targeted in the wake of the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota and included a focus on activists who had traveled to and supported Palestine. Similarly activist Carlos Montes, once a member of the East LA 13, was raided and charged on the basis of similarly outrageous offenses related to supposed incidents dating back over 30 years. This attempt to silence these outspoken activists fighting for justice at home and abroad have all failed.
This case like that of the Anti-War 23 and the case of Carlos Montes is not about the charges brought forth, but is directly related to the politics of those indicted. Students for a Democratic Society at the U of M recognizes that the same office of Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas attacked the humanitarian non-profit aid group of the Holy Land Foundation which resulted in the political imprisonment of the Holy Land 5. It is also from this same office that the political attack on the Anti-War 23 emerged. It is from this office that the repressive legal apparatus of the United States has reached out across the Midwest to attack people for their politics. And now the same office that has attacked the Holy Land 5 and the Anti-War 23 is attempting to silence Odeh for her longstanding support for her homeland, Palestine. SDS at the U of M stands in solidarity with Rasmea Odeh and will support her throughout her fight for justice. We demand that the U.S. Attorneys Office drop all the charges against Rasmea Odeh. We demand an end to all political repression and we demand an end to the occupation of Palestine.
Now the U.S. government is carrying out enforcement of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and Rasmea faces being stripped of U.S. citizenship, a prison term of ten years and probably, after prison, deportation. The charges against her are a political attack on her as an individual, and on Palestinian, Arab and Muslim communities across the U.S. as a whole. The charges against her are part of an ongoing campaign against Palestinians and those who work in solidarity with them. Barry Jonas, the same prosecutor pursuing 23 anti-war and international solidarity activists, including nine from Minneapolis, is helping build the case against Rasmea.
Rasmea is the associate director of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), one of the oldest institutions in Chicago’s Arab community. She leads a women’s committee with 600 Arab and Muslim women and she is also a leader in the immigrant rights movement in Chicago. Join us November 13 for a national day of action to support for Rasmea on her court date, demanding the charges against her be dropped. Organized by the MN Committee to Stop FBI Repression.
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/512340255528000/
Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) challenges the surprising arrest of Rasmea Odeh, a leader in Chicago’s Palestinian community. She was arrested on October 22 by agents of the Department of Homeland Security for alleged immigration fraud. This 65-year-old woman has dedicated her life to the struggle of the Palestinian people, survived torture and a decade of imprisonment by Israeli authorities, before migrating to the U.S. in 1995.
Rasmea Odeh is the assistant director of the Arab American Action Network in Chicago. She is responsible for the management of day-to-day operations and the coordination of their Arab Women’s Committee, with a membership of 600, leading work in the areas of civil liberties and immigrant rights.
It appears that the case against Odeh is not about immigration, but an attempt to silence her and subdue her good work in the community on behalf of justice for Palestinian people living under ever-increasing oppression by Israeli military rule in the West Bank and Gaza. She has said, “War and occupation in our home countries leads to political and legislative attacks on us here. So we must advocate and organize within our community to affect change and make our voices heard.”
Odeh’s work is aligned with WAMM’s vision for a world with peace and justice. It seems that Odeh’s arrest may be linked to the 2010 FBI raids and ongoing grand jury investigation of Midwest anti-war activists, including members of WAMM – another sign of continued government intimidation and attempted silencing of those who are effective advocates for Arab-American communities, and who speak out for the rights of people in Palestine.
WAMM members are encouraged to call on US Attorney Barbara McQuade to drop charges against Rasmea Odeh! Telephone: (313) 226-9100 or Fax (313) 226-2311 and to sign the Committee to Stop FBI Repression’s petition at http://www.iacenter.org/rasmeaodehpetition/.
Petition effort in support of Rasmea Odeh under way
Chicago, IL – A massive online petition effort demanding that the government drop the charges against Rasmea Odeh was launched Nov. 2. Odeh, a longtime Palestinian community leader war arrested by Homeland Security on Oct. 22.
Hundreds of people signed the petition in the first few hours since it was posted.
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression is going all out to defend Odeh. StopFBI.net is an excellent source of information for developments in her case.
The petition appears below.
Drop the Charges against Rasmea Yousef Odeh
Sign the petition here: http://www.iacenter.org/rasmeaodehpetition/
Signing the petition will generate a direct email to:
— U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara McQuade
— Assistant U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois Barry Jonas
— U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
and other public officials demanding that the charges against Rasmea Odeh be dropped.
Full petition text
We, the undersigned, demand that U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade stop the indictment of Rasmea Yousef Odeh and drop all federal charges.
Sixty-six year old Rasmea Odeh is a Palestinian-American feminist, activist, educator and community leader. She has served as the associate director of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) in Chicago since 2004. For the past 10 years, Rasmea has built unprecedented community support for close to 600 Arab immigrant women on issues related to English literacy, gender violence, inter-generational cultural conflicts, racial profiling, immigrant rights, and access to social and economic resources. She has established community-wide education projects related to civil and human rights, social justice, and community economic development and workshops that allow Arab immigrant women to tell, write, and perform their immigration stories while improving their writing skills. In 2013, Rasmea received the “Outstanding Community Leader Award” from the Chicago Cultural Alliance, which described her as a woman who has “dedicated over 40 years of her life to the empowerment of Arab women,
first in her homes of Palestine, Jordan, and Lebanon, where she was an activist, and then the past 10 years in Chicago.”
On October 22, the Department of Homeland Security arrested Rasmea in her home for alleged immigration fraud as part of an ongoing witch-hunt that targets Arabs and Muslims who criticize U.S. and Israeli policy and labels them “terrorists.”
Rasmea has been demanding justice for Palestinians for most of her life. Like the experience of approximately 20% of the total Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza, she spent time as a political prisoner in Israeli jails in the 1970’s. There, she was violently tortured and humiliated– despite the international legal prohibition on torture and ill-treatment.
Like their Israeli ally, the U.S. federal government has a history of targeting individuals who express public support for Palestine and over and over, Palestinian and Arab American activists are disproportionately targeted in such cases. According to the Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, their organization, in partnership with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Palestine Solidarity Legal Support (PSLC) in collaboration with the National Lawyers Guild and other organizations, “has documented over 75 cases of intimidation and legal bullying in 2013 alone. These include perceived surveillance, FBI contacts, and discriminatory enforcement of laws against advocates for Palestinian rights.” Now decades in the making, this U.S. government strategy targets Palestinian immigrants, Palestinian Americans, and their supporters in order to quell any and all support for Palestinian rights in the U.S. and globally. According to CCR and PSLC, it is no coincidence that federal
prosecutors are now targeting Rasmea, who is a pillar in the same community where 23 anti-war and Palestinian rights activists, many who’s homes were raided by the FBI, were subpoenaed to testify before a Grand Jury in 2010. There have been no indictments against the 23 activists subpoenaed presumably because of a lack of evidence.
The U.S. government’s portrayal of Palestinians as violent and inhuman fuels the case against Rasmea and as a result, the U.S. mainstream betrays Palestinians like Rasmea, leaving them with little support. The corporate media makes matters worse. By telling the story of Rasmea’s past as though she was a possible terrorist legitimately and legally arrested by the Israeli government, the media covers up that Israel occupies Palestinian land and arrests and tortures Palestinians systematically and illegally. The sensationalized media portrayal of Rasmea’s “terrorist past” dehumanizes Rasmea and justifies the ongoing state violence committed against her and the larger Arab American and Arab immigrant communities.
We stand in solidarity with Rasmea Yousef Odeh!
We demand the charges placed on Rasmea Yousef Odeh to be dropped immediately!
The Anti-War Committee condemns the politically-motivated attack on Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian community leader arrested in her Chicago home on October 22, by agents of the Department of Homeland Security.
She is charged with immigration fraud. Allegedly, in her application for citizenship, she didn’t mention that she was arrested in Palestine 45years ago by an Israeli military court that detains Palestinians without charge – a court that has over 200 children in prison today and does not recognize the rights of Palestinians to due process. Rasmea Odeh overcame vicious torture by Israeli authorities while imprisoned in Palestine in the 70s. She is one of the millions of Palestinians who have not given up organizing for their rights to liberation,equality, and return. It is shameful that the US government is now attempting to imprison her once again.
Odeh’s arrest this week appears to be related to the case of the 23anti-war activists, including members of the Anti-War Committee, who were subpoenaed to a grand jury in 2010. We were targeted as organizers of the 2008 anti-war march on the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Undercover law enforcement agents spied on our committee and our movement allies for two years, sabotaged a 2009 solidarity trip to Palestine, and then the FBI raided our homes and offices, claiming that we had provided material support to foreign terrorist organizations in Palestine and Colombia.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas is leading the investigation against us, and he was at the courtroom in Chicago, consulting with the assistant U.S. attorney who brought the indictment against Odeh. Jonas was also the prosecutor in the case of the Holy Land Five, the heads of the largest Muslim charity in the U.S. before 9/11. He was successful in getting prison sentences for as long as 65 years for the five men, who provided charity to children in Gaza.
The case against Odeh is not about immigration, but an attempt to silence her, to cut short her important community organizing, and to attack the struggle for a free Palestine. She has said, “War and occupation in our home countries leads to political and legislative attacks on us here. So we must advocate and organize within our community to affect change and make our voices heard.”
The Anti-War Committee stands with Rasmea Odeh, and against those who would silence and imprison her. This attack is another example of the continuing repression of Palestinians and people who stand in solidarity with them. Homeland Security, the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Attorney’s office are carrying out enforcement of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. We ask all those who have stood with us against the government attack on our organizing, to stand with us today to support Rasmea Odeh.