NATIONAL–AF3IRM, a transnational feminist, anti-imperialist organization, denounces the arrest and charges brought against community organizer Rasmea Odeh. On October 22, 2013, Rasmea was arrested at the age of 67 in Chicago based on charges of immigration fraud. Her trial started this week in Detroit, Michigan. If convicted, she will face up to ten years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and deportation. As transnational feminists, we recognize that this is no ordinary arrest or trial- that Rasmea’s criminalization is politically motivated and that it is directly linked to gender, ethnicity, imperialism, and colonialism. We demand the end to this persecution!
Rasmea’s charge of fraudulence points to the omission of her imprisonment by Israeli authorities on her visa and US citizenship application ten years ago. That imprisonment, forty-five years ago in Palestine, was the result of a forced confession that Israeli soldiers obtained from 21-year old Rasmea, after they arrested her in the middle of the night and subjected her to torture and interrogation for almost a month. She was beaten and sexually assaulted, including being raped with a wooden stick, continuously by Israeli authorities, and eventually wrongfully imprisoned for a crime she did not commit.
The deliberate violence and oppression inflicted upon Rasmea is not an anomaly, but rather just one example of the systemic, ongoing persecution of Palestinians by Israel and its allies. Being Palestinian, Rasmea was and is a target and a threat to the state of Israel. Being a woman, the violence and torture that she suffered through is gendered. Israel being a settler-colonial project, dehumanization and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians as Rasmea experienced are normalized and celebrated.
Although Rasmea has lived in the United States since 1995 and has been a citizen for almost ten years, her persecution continues. Even during her trial, she was not allowed to speak about the torture she experienced. It is no coincidence that she is being targeted here in the US – as the US government continues to fund and support Israel, as Zionist interests continue to take precedent over justice and human rights, as our government and institutions persist in waging war against Arabs and Muslims. It is no coincidence that Rasmea’s arrest and charges are sprung in the midst of the increased criminalization of Palestinian and Palestine solidarity activists. It is no coincidence that this is happening as we witness the increased racial profiling here of Southwest Asian, North Afrikan, and Muslim peoples since 2001. US citizens are not safe from Israel’s control and influence, as seen in the case of Professor Salaita whose support of Palestine sparked Zionist outrage and forced the withdrawal of his appointment at the University of Illinois.
These actions are all a direct reflection of the US and Israeli state policies towards Palestinian and Arab peoples- that any and all resistance to Israel must be obliterated, that Palestinian and Arab lives are disposable. We have seen this time and time again, especially with Palestinian and Arab women being targeted and triply destroyed – first by the state and its policies, then by rape and sexual violence, and finally even being killed off. These policies and practices have not gone unnoticed – even as this war is waged, people the world over continue to resist and continue to rise up against it.
AF3IRM has always taken a stand in demanding justice for Palestine and Palestinians. We especially recognize the perversion of justice in this case and we stand in solidarity with Rasmea Odeh. Since Rasmea’s arrival into the United States, she has been an advocate for justice and a community organizer for the Arab community and society at large. Her community involvement includes being the associate director at Arab American Action Network in Chicago and founding the Arab Women’s Committee. Through these organizations, she has supported countless immigrant families and women seeking services and guidance. We have hope that the jury will find her innocent, that the court will drop all charges, and that Rasmea will be able to continue this needed work.
As transnational feminists, we cannot be silent about this injustice and we join others in voicing their outrage. We cannot let Rasmea be imprisoned once again. We cannot let another woman of color be destroyed by the hands of these oppressive and corrupt systems. We cannot accept that Rasmea’s sexual torture and trauma and imprisonment by occupiers and colonizers be diminished and used against her. We cannot let Israel continue to manipulate the government and judicial systems here to feed its power and extend the reach of its oppression.
AF3IRM demands an immediate end to Rasmea Odeh’s persecution!
We demand the dismissal of the case and the dropping of all charges against her. We demand the restoration of her freedom, which is her just due as a woman and human being upon this earth. Rasmea’s persecution is intended to silence her and to hide the gender violence and physical violence which have come to be the common fate of Palestinians in the hands of Israel and its allies.
Palestine for Palestinians!
End land grabbing by settler colonialism!
Long live Intifada!
Let Rasmea go!
Sign the petition: petitions.moveon.org/sign/drop-the-charges-against?source=s.icn.em.cp&r_by=9356624