Rasmea Odeh will face sentencing on March 12 in Detroit. Convicted in November 2014 of unlawful procurement of naturalization, Odeh and her legal team have already announced their plans to immediately appeal the verdict following her sentencing.
Take action – join one of these events on March 12:
- Detroit, 10 AM, (hearing starts at 11 AM EST), 231 W. Lafayette Blvd., downtown Detroit. Register if you are attending the sentencing hearing in Detroit. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/352577721606111/
- Tampa, 5 PM, Sam M. Gibbons Federal Courthouse, 801 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33602. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/676762805765691/
- Minneapolis, 4:30 PM, Mayday Plaza, 301 Cedar Ave S (outside Mayday Books), Minneapolis, MN. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/937977422893806/
- Santa Rosa, 9 AM, Fourth Street and Santa Rosa Avenue Santa Rosa, CA
Odeh, 67 years old, is the associate director of the Arab American Action Network in Chicago and the founder of the Arab Women’s Committee, a project involving hundreds of Arab migrant women in Chicago that includes English language lessons, community support and empowerment. She is also a former Palestinian political prisoner, held in Israeli jails for 10 years after being convicted by an Israeli occupation military court. During her arrest and interrogation, she was brutally tortured, sexually assaulted, and raped. The story of Rasmea’s torture was reported in the British Sunday Times in 1977 and testified to before the United Nations.
Following her release from prison in a collective prisoner exchange with the Palestinian resistance, Odeh studied and worked in Jordan. In 1994, she moved to the United States at the request of her brother, to care for their ailing father; there, she later founded the Arab Women’s Committee. In 2004, she received U.S. citizenship. And on October 22, 2013, she was arrested – accompanied by government press releases and interviews – and charged with one count of “unlawful procurement of naturalization,” for not mentioning her time in Israeli military prison in her citizenship application.
She rejected a plea bargain that would have seen her immediate deportation to Jordan without prison time and insisted on bringing her case to trial. Working with her experienced legal team, including National Lawyers Guild lawyers Michael Deutsch, Jim Fennerty, Dennis Cunningham and William Goodman – with past experience successfully defending Palestinian defendants from bogus “terror”-based charges, she mounted a vigorous defense to the charges. Her legal team saw the first judge, Paul Borman, replaced after they indicated his conflicts of interest in the case, and replaced with Judge Gershwin Drain.
Across the United States and around the world, activists and communities of conscience mobilized for Rasmea. The Rasmea Defense Committee, led by the Committee to Stop FBI Repression and the US Palestinian Community Network, brought dozens of organizations together to demand the charges be dropped. Student groups, women’s organizations, academic associations, Palestinian community movements, organizations of people of color, labor unions and more sprung into action, calling, petitioning and protesting, defending their beloved Rasmea Odeh.
Odeh’s resilience and steadfastness had been legendary in the Palestinian liberation movement since her days as a political prisoner in Israeli jails, on through her organizing and leadership of Arab women in the Chicago community. Throughout that time, her commitment to a vision of justice, liberation and progressive social change inspired generations through personal connection – and countless more who knew of her story, parts of which were recounted in documentaries like Buthaina Canaan Khoury’s “Women in Struggle.”
In the courtroom, however, the governmental authority of the prosecution held sway as she was prohibited from discussing her experiences under Israeli torture on the stand – critical information relating to her experience of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and the illegitimacy of her military-court conviction. She was convicted in November 2014.
There is substantial evidence that the government’s case against Odeh sprung from the lengthy infiltration of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Anti-War Committee, and other progressive, grassroots organizations engaged in international solidarity and Palestinian community organizing that led to FBI raids on over a dozen activists, the long-term harassment and surveillance of Palestinian community leader and AAAN Executive Director Hatem Abudayyeh, and the subpoenas of 23 activists to appear before a federal grand jury allegedly investigating “material support for terrorism” for Chicago and Minneapolis-based political advocacy. No one was ever charged in that case – but material obtained by the activists’ lawyers indicate that that investigation, aimed at suppressing freedom of expression, was in fact the basis for the investigation, targeting and prosecution of Rasmea.
Rasmea was jailed following trial – and then placed in solitary confinement. Following a large-scale call-in campaign, and Odeh’s legal team and allies filing critical briefs – including the statements of hundreds of women and community members helped by Rasmea’s work – she was released pending sentencing, and has campaigned tirelessly since her release. On March 12, she will be sentenced; her lawyers will appeal and will also seek her release pending appeal. The prosecution, however, has another vision – and seeks a prison sentence far above the standard guidelines, plus deportation, for Rasmea, based on a series of political assertions and Israeli allegations in their sentencing memo.
The campaign to defend Rasmea – Palestinian political prisoner in Israeli, and then US jails – will continue. To follow the campaign and support her defense, please see http://justice4rasmea.org, the website of the Rasmea Defense Committee.
Rasmea spoke on March 8 at an International Women’s Day event in Chicago, with words of justice for all: “I am sure that all of us have the same hopes and dreams that we have dedicated our lives to. We all stand for social justice and liberation in this country the same way my people have dedicated their lives to the liberation of Palestine.”
Take Action! Donate for Rasmea’s legal defense: http://justice4rasmea.org/donate/
Upcoming events and fundraisers for Rasmea Odeh’s defense:
- March 13, Washington DC: Fundraiser for Rasmea Odeh
- April 19, Chicago: Supporting and Defending Civil Rights – The Case of Rasmea Odeh
Background Articles on Rasmea Odeh’s Case:
- Angela Davis on Rasmea Odeh, International Women’s Day 2015
- Free Rasmea Odeh, political prisoner, Angela Davis (2014)
- How Palestinian-American Rasmea Odeh Was Revictimized In US Federal Court, Mary Beaudoin, Mint Press News
- Statement: CCR, PSLS, 64 other rights groups sign statement opposing indictment of Palestinian-American activist Rasmea Odeh
- Rasmea Odeh should be honored, not imprisoned, Ramah Kudaimi, Arab American News
- Organizing After the Odeh Verdict, Nadine Naber, Jacobin
- Criminalizing Resistance, Charlotte Kates, Jacobin
- A political prosecution: inside the trial of Rasmea Odeh, Nora Barrows-Friedman and Charlotte Silver, Electronic Intifada
- US witch hunt against prominent activists targets Palestinian Rasmea Odeh, Roqayah Chamseddine, Al Akhbar English
- Justice for Rasmea Odeh, Nadine Naber, MERIP
- Rasmea Odeh conviction part of US war on dissent, Robin Strauss, Radical Women
- Rasmea Odeh: Victim of Institutional Oppression, From Israel to the US, Dahr Jamail, Truthout
- Rasmea Odeh and the Vilification of Brown Women’s Bodies, Hadiya Abdelrahman, MuslimGirl
- Rasmea Odeh: Raped And Tortured By Israel, Now Being Prosecuted By The U.S., Sean Nevins, Mint Press News
- Will Rasmea Odeh Go to Prison Because of a Confession Obtained Through Torture?, Charlotte Silver, The Nation
- Why is Obama’s DOJ prosecuting a torture victim?, Josh Ruebner, The Hill
- The US Will Prosecute You For Your Politics, Sean Nevins, Mint Press News
- Justice4Rasmea press archive: http://justice4rasmea.org/press/