On November 15, three FBI agents came to the Chicago home of an international solidarity
Today, Sept. 24, marks five years since anti-war and international solidarity activists in the Midwest woke to the sound FBI agents loud banging on their front doors, armed with battering rams, boxes to carry away personal property, and subpoenas, ordering the activists to appear before a Chicago grand jury investigating material support of terrorism.
The response from the broader community was immediate and overwhelming – dozens gathered at homes while the raids were in progress and hundreds came out to press conferences, meetings and protests in the days and months that followed. That support has been critical to our defense against this government attack, making it possible to continue on our organizing. We are asking that you continue that support today, and direct it to the struggle to win justice for Rasmea Odeh.
Rasmea Odeh was not raided or subpoenaed on Sept. 24, 2010, but Rasmea was a target in the same investigation. At 68 years old, she has dedicated her life to the liberation of the Palestinian people and empowerment of women. She is a survivor of torture who bravely gave testimony to the United Nations in 1979, giving public voice to the particular methods of torture Israel uses against women. Arrested in 2013, Rasmea stood trial in November 2014 for immigration fraud.
The prosecution’s case was never about immigration. Instead, Rasmea’s case was founded on documents from Israeli military courts, which had convicted Rasmea on the basis of a false confession coerced under torture. While the prosecution was free to introduce Israeli claims as facts, Rasmea was denied to right to tell her side of the story. Her defense was further undercut when the judge refused to allow testimony by a torture expert, to address how her responses to immigration application questions would be impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder, which Rasmea has lived with since that torture some 40 years ago.
Hundreds of people from across the country joined Rasmea in Detroit last fall, seeing very clearly that she was denied a fair trial. People came to Detroit again in March, to stand with her as the judge sentenced her to 18 months imprisonment and loss of citizenship (and deportation). We are needed again, this time in Cincinnati, to stand with Rasmea as her case is heard by an appeals court Oct. 14.
Her defense attorneys have said since the beginning of this ordeal, “You [Rasmea’s supporters] provide public testimony when you rally outside the courthouse and then file in to fill the courtroom. Public testimony of not only the power of Rasmea’s positive influence on her friends and colleagues, and the people she organizes, but public testimony also of the fact that she did not receive a fair trial and that there are people who are going to hold the system – prosecutors and judges – accountable.”
The immediate danger that Rasmea faces overshadows our many accomplishments since the FBI raids 5 years ago. That every one of the 23 people ordered to testify at that Chicago grand jury refused, but none were jailed, that is a victory. When the FBI investigation led to bogus charges against Chicano leader Carlos Montes, but he too was never imprisoned, that is a victory. We have answered political repression with consistent solidarity. That is just what we need today, to win justice for Rasmea.
Hundreds of supporters will stand with Rasmea in Cincinnati on Wednesday, Oct. 14, as arguments for her appeal are presented to the judges.If you can be in Cincinnati that day, we need you there.
We also need financial support, to fund Rasmea’s defense. We can now accept tax deductible contributions directly, so please take this opportunity to give generously. To donate, go to http://www.stopfbi.net/donate