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Rasmea Odeh is celebrating her birthday in Chicago, and preparing for her appeal in a Cincinnati courtroom. She was sentenced in March to 18 months in prison and deportation, after an unfair trial that her attorneys and the Rasmea Defense Committee are challenging.
The appeal will address two main points that made her defense impossible: Judge Drain’s exclusion of any testimony regarding the vicious torture and sexual assault that Rasmea faced in Israeli prisons when she was arrested and forced into a false confession in Palestine in 1969 and 1970; as well as his refusal to allow Dr. Mary Fabri, world renowned expert on torture, to testify on how Rasmea’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affected her when she allegedly filled out her U.S. immigration paperwork inaccurately. Secondly, we will challenge the judge’s allowing of Israeli military court decisions to be used as evidence in her legal proceedings in the U.S.
Defense attorneys will officially file the appeal by June 10th, and plans are in place to organize a livestream conversation across the country with Michael Deutsch, Rasmea’s lead attorney, sometime soon thereafter. Please be on the lookout for that announcement very soon.
The prosecution will file its response to the appeal on or before July 8th, and then we believe that it will be heard sometime in September 2015. That is when we will again mobilize hundreds of supporters of Rasmea to attend the appeal in Cincinnati, Ohio. There, three appellate judges will hear 15 minutes of arguments each from Deutsch and the prosecution. At that point, it may take months for a decision to be handed down.
The Rasmea Defense Committee has been working steadily to raise money for the appeal, and to continue to educate the general public about the case. Recent fundraising and educational events have been organized in California, Illinois, two in Indiana, New York, Florida, Minnesota, Utah, Wisconsin, two in DC, and Michigan. In addition, the legendary Angela Davis is coming to Chicago in June to headline a joint solidarity event with Rasmea and the Black community fighting to stop police violence.
Rasmea was born in Lifta, near Jerusalem, Palestine, almost exactly one year before the Nakba, and she is the very personification of the Palestinian struggle for liberation. Her story encompasses all the major issues we still fight for today: the right of refugees to return to the homes and lands from which they were exiled in 1947-8 and again in 1967; freedom for all Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli and Palestinian Authority jails; the end of Israeli occupation and colonization of all Arab lands; women’s rights; and freedom and self-determination for our people.
It is been almost seven decades since the illegitimate, apartheid state of Israel was established on Palestinian land. Rasmea has been organizing for almost 50 of those years to help free her people, and to build a society with dignity and justice for all. She is beloved by the women and children on Chicago’s southwest side and suburbs, and by thousands of others across the U.S. and the world.
Join her defense campaign and fight with us to win this appeal. We must still raise $50,000 for the defense, so make your birthday donation here. We need you now more than ever.