The following statement was issued by Students for Justice in Palestine (National) in the United States, demanding an end to the persecution of Rasmea Odeh by federal officials and linking it to ongoing political repression.
On October 22, 2013, Rasmea Yousef, a 66-year-old Palestinian activist, was arrested at her Chicago home by agents of the Department of Homeland Security. As students, we stand in solidarity with Ms. Yousef. We consider both her arrest and the charges against her to be illegitimate, and see them for what they are: acts of political repression.
Rasmea Yousef is a well-known and beloved member of Chicago’s Palestinian community. She is the associate director of the Arab American Action Network, and the founder of its Arab Women’s Committee. In 2013, she was named an Outstanding Community Leader by the Chicago Cultural Alliance, and she is a regular at Palestine solidarity events throughout the city. Her community organizing and contributions to Palestine solidarity work have made an enormous impact in Chicago. Today, Ms. Yousef, an integral part of our community and an inspirational woman, faces the possibility of deportation and up to ten years in prison.
The arrest of Ms. Yousef is part of an ongoing campaign of repression by the US government against those organizing in opposition to Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. Her arrest appears to be connected to a secret investigation that began in 2010, in which twenty-three Palestine and Anti-War activists, including university students, were subpoenaed to a grand jury. Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas, who is leading the investigation against the twenty-three, was at the courtroom in Chicago Tuesday morning. Just as as we condemned the 2010 investigation as part of US government witch-hunt, we condemn this recent incident.
Upon her arrest, Ms. Yousef was charged with immigration fraud for allegedly omitting the fact that she was arrested by Israeli forces in 1969 from her citizenship application. These charges rely on the verdict of an illegitimate Israeli military court and prison system, which has been investigated and condemned countless times by Human Rights Watch, theUnited Nations, Amnesty International, Defence for Children International, and other human rights and prisoners rights organizations, which have demanded an end to its unjust practices. Such practices include the arrest without charge or trial, and subsequent torture, of Palestinian men, women, and children.
Though the arrest of Rasmea Yousef is part of a campaign of political intimidation, we refuse to be deterred from our work. National Students for Justice in Palestine condemns the arrest of and charges against Ms. Yousef. We stand in solidarity with Ms. Yousef, just as we stand with all those affected by the destructive nature of political repression, racism, imperialism, and violence that occurs as a result of US domestic and foreign policies. We will continue to act in solidarity with those who struggle against these systems of oppression, as we feel their effects in our own communities, both in the US and abroad.