New announcement from the Rasmea Defense Committee about legal developments in the case of Rasmea Odeh, former Palestinian prisoner, torture survivor and community leader now facing persecution by the U.S. government. In addition, following the legal update is a response to a racist attack on Rasmea in the New York Post, written by Michela Martinazzi and Suzanne Adely of the New York Rasmea Defense Committee. We urge all to be ready to participate and act on 25 April in Detroit:
Michael Deutsch, Jim Fennerty, and the rest of the legal defense team for Rasmea Odeh are gearing up for trial, now scheduled for May 30th. New motions filed this week put the question of Israel and its torturers front and center, and will be considered at a hearing on April 25th (moved from April 4th).
One motion calls on Judge Gershwin Drain to suppress all evidence procured through torture. Citing the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the constitution, and international law, including the Convention against Torture, Deutsch argues that any evidence based on Rasmea’s confession to the Israelis in 1969—which came as the result of an illegal arrest and subsequent torture—cannot be allowed a hearing in court.
In a second motion for discovery, Deutsch is asking the prosecutors for all evidence relating to Rasmea’s arrest and torture, including the names of her torturers and any “use of force” guidelines the Israelis used in the late 1960s. Israel still regularly employs the use of torture against Palestinians, including children. In court, these documents will help to prove the systematic nature of decades of Israeli torture of Palestinians, and as it relates to this case.
In Rasmea’s case, her torture was documented by the United Nations, and again by psychologist Dr. Mary Fabri, a world-renowned torture expert, during Fabri’s clinical evaluation and subsequent diagnosis of Rasmea’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In her written affidavit to the court, Dr. Fabri recounts the horrific details of Rasmea’s torture at the hands of the Israelis, including physical beatings, intentional medical neglect, psychological torture, and sleep deprivation; being forced to witness the torture of her friends and family; and, of course, the sexual assault and violence to which she was subjected.
These new motions follow the filing weeks ago of one that takes aim at a “vindictive” superseding indictment filed by the U.S. Attorney following the appellate court decision that reversed Rasmea’s conviction. The new indictment accuses Rasmea of “terrorism” by alleging she was a member of a Palestinian political party on the U.S. State Department’s list of designated foreign terrorist organizations. The most important question Judge Drain will consider at the upcoming hearing is whether to allow the new indictment at all, which is being challenged by the defense on a number of legal fronts, including for violating the statute of limitations.
“If the indictment is thrown out, we know that Rasmea can win this case at trial,” said Muhammad Sankari of the Rasmea Defense Committee in Chicago. “If it’s not, Rasmea and her team are ready for a fight. She survived brutal torture at the hands of the Israelis, and that should not be used to help the U.S. government persecute her today.”
Judge Drain will rule on all the motions at the next pretrial hearing—which has been moved from April 4th to April 25th—or shortly thereafter. We are calling on all of Rasmea’s supporters to meet us on Tuesday, April 25th, 2017, in front of the U.S. District Court at 231 W. Lafayette Blvd in downtown Detroit, Michigan, at 1:30 PM Eastern time, for a rally before the 2:30 PM hearing. (A detailed “All Out for Detroit” email coming soon!)
We also need you to continue to support #Justice4Rasmea by donating to the defense, organizing local educational and fundraising events, and staying in touch by visiting justice4rasmea.org and/or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONTACT: Hatem Abudayyeh, National Spokesperson, Rasmea Defense Committee; 773.301.4108; email@example.com
Rasmea Defense Committee
This response to a vicious opinion piece in the New York Post was submitted on February 28th, but unsurprisingly rejected by the Post. We publish it ourselves now.
On Saturday, February 25th, the New York Post published an opinion piece by Kyle Smith that openly ridicules the idea of women striking on International Working Women’s Day, March 8th. Smith also attacks our own Rasmea Odeh, one of the women calling for the day of protest. As usual, The Post is in despicable company, as ultra-right-winger and white supremacist Milo Yiannopoulos has also attacked the protest and vilified Rasmea.
Smith says that the only thing the authors of the call have is outrage. Given the month that we’ve had since Trump’s inauguration, yes, we are outraged. He and everyone else should be outraged, too.
International Working Women’s Day is recognized throughout the world. It’s a day that celebrates the women who have struggled for equality and against oppression. It is appropriate to respond with strikes and marches to an election of an openly male chauvinist president, one who has been accused by numerous women of assault, and has publicly admitted to sexual assault; one who campaigned on a platform that included overturning the right of a woman to control her own body; and one who threatens the rights of LGBTQ folks, oppressed nationalities, and working class women.
The Trump administration has executive orders flying out of the White House at a dizzying speed. Why must there be a second women’s march? It’s because every single one of the executive orders that Trump has signed affects women. The #MuslimBan affects Muslim women. Closing borders to refugees from war-torn countries affects refugee women. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rounding up immigrants without due process affects immigrant women. Therefore, a protest on March 8th is not only warranted, but absolutely necessary.
The sensationalist headline Smith uses to tear down Rasmea Odeh is shameful. He writes that Odeh was a “convicted terrorist,” while failing to disclose that an Israeli military court (which, according to its own records, as reported by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “convicts” 99.74% of Palestinians who come before it) found her “guilty” based on a forced confession illegally obtained through torture and sexual assault. Smith doesn’t include that Odeh is a pioneer in the women’s movement, as she spoke publicly—at the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva in 1979—about the sexual torture that she experienced and survived.
Furthermore, since Odeh moved to the United States, she has been integral in helping Arab and Muslim women in her community of Greater Chicago. In 2013, she received the Outstanding Community Leader Award from the Chicago Cultural Alliance. She has been a fighter and protector of women for over 50 years, and slandering her is the work of a completely anti-Palestinian and misogynistic bigot.
We urge everyone to organize for March 8th; to support Rasmea in her struggle against repression, as we prepare for an [April 25th] hearing in Detroit on a defense motion to dismiss the government’s new indictment against her; and to continue fighting for all the rights that Trump is trying to take away. Together we are strong, and our voices loud and clear. Join actions across the U.S. on International Working Women’s Day, strike for justice, and demand #Justice4Rasmea!
Michela Martinazzi, Committee to Stop FBI Repression, NY
Suzanne Adely, U.S. Palestinian Community Network, NY
for the Rasmea Defense Committee