[Pnews] Angela Davis: Free Rasmea Odeh, political prisoner

Prisoner News 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 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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