Students for a Democratic Society opposes the indictment of Rasmea Odeh. We recognize this attack as part of the US government’s attempts to silence and repress antiwar activists as well as the Arab community.
On October 22nd, 2013, 65 year-old Rasmea Odeh was arrested in her home and charged with immigration fraud. The Department of Homeland Security alleges Rasmea did not disclose her arrest by an Israeli military court, which happened over 45 years ago, on her application for US citizenship. She could face up to ten years in prison and the revocation of her citizenship.
The Israeli government is notorious for violating Palestinians’ human rights. Israelis often deny Palestinians any right to due process including, but not limited to, the right to know one’s charges, the freedom from arbitrary search and arrest, the right to representation in a trial, and the right to a trial by jury. Israeli military courts frequently detain and charge hundreds of Palestinian children per year. With this in mind, it is difficult to imagine that Rasmea received anything resembling a fair trial. After being in Israeli prisons for over 10 years, Rasmea went on to obtain both a law degree as well as a masters degree in criminal justice and continued to work toward a more just world. This year, she received an Outstanding Community Leader award from the Chicago Cultural Alliance for her work with the Arab American Action Network. This includes being a leader on the Arab Women’s Committee and leading the work in areas of civil liberties and immigrant rights. Her determination and dedication to justice should be applauded, not condemned.
However, the case of Rasmea Odeh is primarily about political repression against Palestinian solidarity activists and community organizers. Neither the Department of Homeland Security nor its predecessor, Immigration and Naturalization Services, filed any charges before. It is a fact that Barry Jonas, who prosecuted the Holy Land 5 and is leading the ongoing investigation against the Antiwar 23 (including an SDS member as well as faculty advisors to SDS chapters) who were subpoenaed to a grand jury in 2010, was consulting the US Attorney presenting the indictment against Rasmea Odeh. Clearly, the sudden interest in Odeh is directly related to attempts to target, harass, and imprison those fighting against the ongoing US wars in the Middle East and those showing solidarity with Palestine. The members of SDS will not stand for it.
Rasmea goes to court on Wednesday, November 13th. SDS unites with the international call for protests this day, and ask that students and youth join protests or hold one of your own on campus or in your communities. The fight to defend activists facing political repression is ultimately the fight to protect us all from political repression.
If you are able to be in Detroit on Nobember 13th, join the solidarity rally at:
U.S. District Court
231 w Lafayette Blvd
Detroit, MI 48226
To take further action, we are asking people to do the following:
1) Sign the petition to drop the charges against Rasmea!
2) Call Barbara McQuade (U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan) at 313-226-9501 or 313-226-9100 and demand she drop all charges.
3) Table, flyer, and plan events on campus in solidarity with Rasmea Odeh.
4) Send a picture of support for Rasmea. Take a picture of yourself or your group holding a paper or banner saying "I am/we are Students for a Democratic Society and I/we support Rasmea." Send them email@example.com. Just remember that the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) may use your image in future publications and informational pamphlets that get published online or distributed as hard copies.
5) Sign or write a solidarity statement and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
6) Mobilize to support Rasmea at her next hearing in Detroit on November 13th. For more information, email the Coalition to Protect People's Rights at email@example.com