February 9, 2015

Wave of support builds for Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh; Supporters mobilize for March 12 Sentencing

Protests, speaking events, and fundraisers are being organized across the U.S. as part of the growing national movement to win justice for Rasmea Odeh. A new website, justice4rasmea.org, will serve as an information clearinghouse and organizing resource for the growing campaign. This is a critical time, as Odeh will appear in court on March 12 for a sentencing hearing, where she faces up to 10 years in prison and deportation.

Odeh is a 67-year-old Palestinian community leader in Chicago.  In November 2014, hundreds gathered for every day of her week-long trial in Detroit, where she was unjustly convicted on charges of Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization, for allegedly giving untruthful answers on her application for U.S. citizenship over a decade ago.  The case was initially brought based on her 1969 arrest in Palestine by Israeli Occupation Forces.  She was sexually assaulted and tortured into a false confession, and that conviction by the Israelis in 1970 was used against her in the U.S. case.

Odeh’s supporters say the Detroit verdict was unfair, largely because of decisions by federal Judge Gershwin Drain, who allowed the Israeli conviction into evidence, but did not allow her legal team to present the rape, torture, and post-traumatic stress disorder.  This and more will be the basis of her appeal of the conviction, a notice of which will be filed immediately after the March 12 sentencing hearing.  

Dozens of letters from faith and labor leaders, national civil rights organizations, community based institutions, academics, and public intellectuals have been written to Judge Drain, asking him to allow Odeh to remain free pending the appeal.  Her lead attorney, Michael Deutsch, stated, “Rasmea is entitled to an appeal bond under the law because her case has meritorious legal issues to be decided by a higher court.” 

Starting today, as part of a national week of action to defend Odeh, events will take place in Minneapolis, Seattle, New York City, Dallas, Tampa, Salt Lake City, Milwaukee, Tucson, Grand Rapids, the Bay Area, Washington DC, and other cities (comprehensive list here).  Some of the events will feature a live stream speech by Odeh, a chance for her to address audiences in cities across the country, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CST (7:30 pm EST) Friday, Feb. 13.  Additional live streams have been added for Sunday, Feb. 15 (3:00 pm EST) and Thursday, Feb. 19 (6:00 pm PST).

Activists from across the Midwest plan to join Odeh in Detroit for the March 12 hearing. In the meantime, several events are planned to raise funds to support the appeal, including Rock for Rasmea in Minneapolis, and one of which was organized by Students for Justice in Palestine last week. 

For more information and background on Rasmea Odeh’s case, visit justice4rasmea.org.


The national Rasmea Defense Committee is led by United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN),Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR), and Coalition to Protect People’s Rights (CPPR); and includes 8th Day Center for Justice, Al-Awda NY: the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)-Chicago, ADC National, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), ANSWER Coalition, Anti-War Committee (AWC)-Chicago, AWC-Minneapolis, Arab Jewish Partnership for Peace and Justice in the Middle East, Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Chicago Light Brigade, Committee Against Political Repression, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)-Chicago, CAIR-Michigan, Friends of Sabeel-North America, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, International League of Peoples’ Struggle-U.S.,Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), Korean American Resource and Cultural Center (KRCC), Latino Organization of the Southwest (LOS), Lifta Society, Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice (MECAWI), Middle East Crisis Committee (CT), Milwaukee Palestine Solidarity Coalition, National Boricua Human Rights Network, National Lawyers Guild (NLG), National Students for Justice in Palestine, Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, Palestinian Youth Movement-USA Branch, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network,St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, United African Organization, United National Antiwar Coalition, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Voces de la Frontera, Women Against Military Madness (WAMM), and Z Collective.