[Pnews] Angela Davis: Free Rasmea Odeh, political prisoner
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Nov 4 10:19:58 EST 2014
Angela Davis: Free Rasmea Odeh, political prisoner
Angela Davis 3:59 a.m. EST November 4, 2014
Rasmea Odeh is fighting for her citizenship and for her freedom. She is
scheduled to appear in federal court in Detroit today on charges of
"unlawful procurement of naturalization."
As her supporters emphasize, her arrest and prosecution are politically
motivated and are clearly designed to disrupt the Chicago Palestine
human rights community.
In the early morning hours of Oct. 22, 2013, Homeland Security agents
arrested the 67-year-old Odeh, an American of Palestinian origin, at her
home in the suburbs of Chicago.
On the same morning she was indicted in federal court, based on
responses to questions posed on a 10-year-old naturalization
application. Odeh has been an American citizen for the last decade.
Only now, when the Chicago activist community has effectively raised
awareness of Israel's apartheid system and its violation of
international laws, have immigration authorities decided to challenge
her status as a citizen. In light of success of the Boycott, Sanctions
and Divestment campaign, this case reeks of political payback.
Federal authorities allege that Odeh did not disclose her arrest in
Palestine 45 years ago by an Israeli military court, an institution that
has a long record of human rights violations.
At that time of her arrest, Odeh was forced into a confession while
being subjected to physical and sexual torture, some of it perpetrated
in front of her now deceased father.
Odeh never committed a crime, and her arrest and conviction by an
Israeli military court was unlawful.
Odeh is not the only Chicago activist who has been targeted in the
recent period. In 2010 anti-war activists --- several from the Chicago
area --- were subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury about their
support of Palestinians and Colombians.
It is revealing that Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas, who is leading
the investigation of the 23 activists, was in the courtroom on the
morning Odeh was arrested, actively consulting with the assistant U.S.
attorney who presented her case.
Jonas has an even longer history of targeting Palestinians. He was the
prosecutor in the case of the Holy Land Five, who were the heads of the
largest Muslim charity in the U.S. before 9/11. He succeeded in getting
inordinately long prison sentences for the five men, who provided
charity to children in Gaza.
The conviction of the Holy Land Five was based on "secret evidence,"
withheld from the defense and on the testimony of Israeli witnesses in
Targeting 67-year-old Odeh at this point, 10 years after she received
her citizenship, appears to be retaliation for the growing successes of
the Palestine solidarity movement. Her case is being tried in federal
court instead of immigration court, where such cases are normally heard.
She faces 10 years in prison as well as the revocation of her
citizenship and deportation.
For decades, Odeh has been an upright and contributing member of her
She has worked with the Chicago-based Arab American Action Network, an
advocacy and social service agency, supervising programs and
coordinating its Arab Women's Committee, a 600-member group that
actively defends civil liberties and immigrant rights.
Targeting a person who has been such an active proponent for positive
change is a serious setback for civil rights and militates against
democracy and justice.
The time has come for progressive people to demand that Barry Jonas and
the U.S. Attorney's Offices in Chicago and Detroit cease their witch
hunts of the Palestine solidarity communities and end political
prosecutions, which undermine the constitutionally protected right to
As a person with first-hand knowledge of the devastation wrought by
politically motivated prosecutions --- during the era of COINTELPRO, I
was falsely charged with three capital offenses --- I see Rasmea Odeh's
case as a continuation of the embarrassing history of decades of
suppression of social justice activists in the U.S.
The courts are being used to retaliate against Palestinian activism. As
many people in Chicago and Detroit once joined the call to "Free Angela
Davis," I hope they will now join the campaign to "Free Rasmea Odeh."
Angela Davis is a renowned activist and distinguished professor emerita
of History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies at the University of
California Santa Cruz.
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the PPnews