Statement: CCR, PSLS, 64 other rights groups sign statement opposing indictment of Palestinian-American activist Rasmea Odeh

Print Friendly and PDF

The below-signed organizations are deeply disturbed by and stand opposed to the indictment yesterday of Rasmea Yousef Odeh, a Palestinian-American community activist who has dedicated 10 years to the Chicago Arab-American community, working with women on issues ranging from promoting literacy and political education to addressing domestic violence and anti-Arab and Muslim sentiment. 

Rasmea’s indictment for alleged immigration fraud comes at a time when advocates for Palestinian rights and immigration rights activists have been facing increasing pressure all over the country.  Exactly three years ago, 23 anti-war and Palestinian rights activists were subpoenaed to testify before a Grand Jury and several of their homes were raided by the FBI.    There have been no indictments against the 23 activists subpoenaed in 2010, presumably because of a lack of evidence. It is no coincidence that federal prosecutors are now targeting Rasmea, who is a pillar in the same community.  

The 2010 raids, the Grand Jury subpoenas that accompanied them, and this indictment against a 65 year old woman who suffered for a decade in Israeli prisons before coming to the U.S. in 1995, are a clear signal that federal authorities, along with Israel and its supporters in the U.S., are continuing to search for ways to intimidate and silence those who are effective advocates for Arab American communities, and who speak out for Palestinian rights.

In the last year alone, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, in partnership with the Center for Constitutional Rights, and in collaboration with the National Lawyers Guild and other organizations, has documented over 75 cases of intimidation and legal bullying. These include perceived surveillance, FBI contacts, and discriminatory enforcement of laws against advocates for Palestinian rights.  Rasmea’s arrest and indictment must be viewed within this wider context of widespread attempts to intimidate people into silence on one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time.  Rasmea’s indictment is also an illustration of increasingly draconian enforcement of immigration laws, which have left immigrant communities devastated at the hands of Obama’s Department of Homeland Security.

Rasmea is an exemplary citizen who recently finished a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice and has a law degree from Jordan.  She has overcome amazing odds after being convicted by the Israeli military court system in 1969 for her alleged association with a leftist Palestinian nationalist group that the U.S. designated a terrorist organization.  The military courts operate exclusively to subjugate occupied Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.  They routinely bypass all but a modicum of due process, and justify holding individuals without charge or trial for months and years, often in abusive conditions and subject to torture.  Rasmea’s activism against the Israeli occupation in the 1960s resulted in her imprisonment in Israeli prisons for 10 years, and it is surely her community activism in the U.S. that has made her, and by extension, the community that relies on her, the target of this indictment.

We call for solidarity with Rasmea as she undergoes a difficult legal battle.  Please support Rasmea at her November 1 appearance in federal court in Detroit, Michigan. We are also asking all supporters to call Barbara McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit, at 313.226.9501 or 313.226.9100, on Friday, October 25th, from 8 AM to 4 PM CST, to demand that she Drop the Charges Now.  For further action items, please see the Arab American Action Network alert.

 

SIGNED:

  1. Al-Awda New York, Palestine Right to Return Coalition
  2. American Friends Service Committee
  3. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
  4. American Muslims for Palestine
  5. Arab Jewish Partnership for Peace and Justice in the Middle East
  6. AROC: Arab Resource & Organizing Center
  7. Bay Area Committee to Stop Political Repression (BACSPR)
  8. Bay Area Women in Black
  9. Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights
  10. Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign – Vancouver
  11. Brooklyn College Students for Justice in Palestine
  12. Canada Palestine Association
  13. Center for Constitutional Rights
  14. Chicago Movement for Palestinian Rights
  15. College and University Workers United
  16. Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine
  17. Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism
  18. Council on American-Islamic Relations – Chicago
  19. CUNY Law Students for Justice in Palestine
  20. Friends of Deir Ibzi'a
  21. Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
  22. Hampshire College Students for Justice in Palestine
  23. INCITE! Women and Trans* People of Color Against Violence
  24. Independent Jewish Voices-Vancouver
  25. Interdenominational Advocates for Peace (IDAP)
  26. International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
  27. International League of People's Struggles
  28. Jadaliyya
  29. Jewish Voice for Peace
  30. Jewish Voice for Peace – Bay Area
  31. Jewish Voice for Peace – Chicago
  32. Jewish Voice for Peaee – Detroit
  33. Jewish Voice for Peace – Philadelphia
  34. Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
  35. JEWS SAY NO!
  36. Justice for Palestinians – San Jose, CA
  37. Labor for Palestine
  38. Legalease Collective, CKUT, Montreal
  39. Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign
  40. Muslim Defense Project of the National Lawyers Guild – New York Chapter
  41. National Lawyers Guild – Chicago
  42. National Lawyers Guild Free Palestine Subcommittee
  43. National Students for Justice in Palestine
  44. New York City Labor Against the War
  45. NYC Queers Against Israeli Apartheid
  46. Palestine Aid Society
  47. Palestine Solidarity Group – Chicago
  48. Palestine Solidarity Legal Support
  49. PAWA: Palestinian American Women's Association
  50. Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace (PCAP)
  51. Queers Against Israeli Apartheid – Toronto, Canada
  52. Red Sparks Union – Vancouver
  53. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
  54. San Francisco Women in Black
  55. Socialist Action
  56. Solidarity: a socialist, feminist, anti-racist organization
  57. Sunbula: Arab Feminists for Change
  58. The Dream Defenders
  59. Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East
  60. United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)
  61. US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
  62. US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
  63. US Palestinian Community Network
  64. WBAI Justice and Unity Campaign
  65. Women of Colour Collective at the McGill Faculty of Law
  66. Voice of Palestine