On October 22nd, Rasmea Yousef Odeh, a Palestinian-American community activist, was arrested by agents of the Department of Homeland Security for allegedly committing immigration fraud. She was arraigned on November 13th and has been released on $15,000 bond. If convicted of lying on her citizenship and visa applications, Odeh faces 10 years in prison and possible deportation.
Odeh, 66, is the the Associate Director of the Arab American Action Network and a major advocate for Arab and Palestinian-Americans and for women’s rights. She was born in 1948, the same year her family was expelled from their village of Lifta by Zionist colonizers and forced to resettle in Ramallah. Because of her experiences living under occupation, she has dedicated her life to fighting for social justice.
U.S. authorities accuse Odeh of lying on her 1994 immigration application by failing to mention an arrest and conviction in an Israeli military court that occurred 45 years ago. Odeh, along with many other Palestinian political prisoners who strive for their country’s liberation, was imprisoned in Israeli jails from 1969 until 1979 during which time she was tortured.
At the time of this writing, more than 7,000 Palestinians are imprisoned by Israel. Hundreds of them are being held under administrative detention, which means that detainees are held without charge or trial indefinitely on the basis of secret, undisclosed evidence and without regular access to a lawyer or any kind of due process. This is the same illegal, occupying power that arrested Odeh 45 years ago and which regularly punishes Palestinians for resisting their oppressor.
While U.S. authorities are supposedly only charging her for immigration fraud, they have also made efforts to portray Odeh as a terrorist in order to undermine her case. The language of the indictment tries to implicate Odeh in terrorism by repeatedly mentioning her membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which the United States has designated as a terrorist organization: “On January 24, President William J. Clinton designated the PFLP as a Specially Designated Terrorist pursuant to Executive Order 12947 for its grave acts of violence which were disrupting the Middle East peace process’ and threatening the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States.” The indictment mentions the PFLP several times despite the fact that it has nothing to do with the charges facing Odeh–alleged immigration fraud.
This attempt to criminalize and dehumanize Odeh is part of a much larger effort by the United States and Israel to label political activists as terrorists in order to repress their efforts to resist racism and imperialism.
Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) condemn the arrest of Rasmea Yousef Odeh and all attempts by U.S. authorities to target and intimidate political activists. We call on U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Barbara McQuade, to drop all charges against Rasmea Odeh now.
What you can do:
Forward this letter to your email lists, friends, and allies.
Call Barbara McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, at 313.226.9501 or 313.226.9100, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, to demand that she Drop the Charges Now!
Send statements of support and solidarity to email@example.com.
Like this Facebook page and tweet with the hashtag #justice4rasmea.
Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine