Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rasmea Odeh's Politicized Persecution

Rasmea Odeh's Politicized Persecution

by Stephen Lendman

Rasmea Yousef Odeh is a 67-year-old Palestinian/American human rights champion. A feminist, activist, educator and community leader.

Chicago-based Arab American Action Network's associate director. Widely respected and loved.

Involved with issues relating to human and civil rights, social, economic and political justice, immigrant rights, racial profiling, gender violence, and more.

An outstanding community leader. For over 40 years. Dedicated to supporting Arab women's rights. For the past 11 years in Chicago.

Earlier in Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon. Born in Palestine. Victimized by Israeli viciousness. Guilty of no crimes whatever.

Wrongfully convicted for alleged membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Incarcerated unjustly in Israel's gulag. From 1969 - 1979. Treated horrifically. Tortured and sexually abused.

Sentence commuted as part of a prisoner release deal. Deported to Lebanon. Since 2005, a Chicago resident.

An Arab American Action Network statement called her "dedicated…to the Chicago Arab-American community…"

"(W)orking with women on issues ranging from promoting literacy and political education to addressing domestic violence and anti-Arab and Muslim sentiment."

A founding United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) Chicago chapter member. Her career spanning five decades. A dedicated human rights champion.

Thousands call her a living legend. Leading by example. Organizing block to block. House to house. Supporting right over wrong.

On October 22, 2013, she was wrongfully arrested in Chicago. On behalf of Eastern District of Michigan federal prosecutors. The jurisdiction where she applied for citizenship.

Arraigned on November 13. Judge Laurie Michelson entered a not guilty plea on her behalf. Released on bond.

Wrongfully charged with unlawful procurement of naturalization. Pertaining to allegedly lying on her 1994 immigration application.

Not mentioning her lawless Israeli arrest 45 years earlier. Occupied Palestinians have no rights whatever.

Arab/American persecution is longstanding. Post-9/11, Washington declared war on Islam.

Muslims are war on terror scapegoats. Vilified unjustly. For their ethnicity, prominence, activism, and charity. 

For praying to the wrong God. For being in America at the wrong time. Systematically denied justice. 

Dehumanized. Spied on. Framed. Tried on secret evidence. Declared guilty by accusation.

Convicted on bogus charges. Given long sentences. Brutalized as political prisoners. 

Last year, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, and 64 other human rights organization expressed outrage over Odeh's indictment.

Saying in part:

"In the last year alone, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, in partnership with the Center for Constitutional Rights, and in collaboration with the National Lawyers Guild and other organizations, has documented over 75 cases of intimidation and legal bullying."

"These include perceived surveillance, FBI contacts and discriminatory enforcement of laws against advocates for Palestinian rights."

"Rasmea's arrest and indictment must be viewed within this wider context of widespread attempts to intimidate people into silence on one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time."

Her "indictment is also an illustration of increasingly draconian enforcement of immigration laws, which have left immigrant communities devastated at the hands of Obama’s Department of Homeland Security."

On November 10, she was wrongfully convicted of immigration fraud. For failing to disclose her lawless Israeli arrest. Outrageous imprisonment 45 years earlier.

Supporters denounced a "travesty of justice…Although there is real anger and disappointment in the jury's verdict, it was known as early as October 27th that she would not get a full and fair trial," they said.

Judge Gershwin Drain refused to allow evidence of Israeli torture and wrongful conviction. Revoked her bond maliciously. Ordered her jailed. Until her March 10 sentencing hearing.

Outrageously endorsed the jury verdict. Saying he "normally (doesn't) comment on verdicts, but in this case" he would.

Calling it "fair and reasonable…(B)ased on the evidence that came it." Maliciously and disgracefully excluding exculpatory evidence. 

Declaring her guilty by accusation. Wanting her convicted as charged. Likely intending a harsh sentence. 

Hanging judges operate this way. Mocking due process and judicial fairness. The American way and then some.

Michael Deutsch is a noted Chicago-based human rights lawyer. A National Lawyer's Guild member. A former Center for Constitutional Right Legal Director. 

Odeh's lead defense team member. Earlier saying her situation "appears to be the Department of Homeland Security behaving in a discriminatory fashion, targeting Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians for selective prosecution."

Criticizing Drain's inappropriate comment. Saying "(t)hat's not his job." Whether he approved of the verdict or not. 

Deutsch never heard this type comment before. Showing Drain is unfit to serve. 

Especially for disallowing convincing exculpatory evidence. Maliciously to assure conviction.

Potentially Odeh faces up to 10 years imprisonment. Fines up to $250,000. Possible loss of citizenship. Deportation on release. 

Gross injustice and then some. It bears repeating. She's guilty of being Muslim in America at the wrong time.

Electronic Intifada correspondent Charlotte Silver covered her trial. Giving kangaroos a bad name.

Israeli occupation harshness persecuted her brutally. According to Silver, she "was one month old when her family fled from their home in Lifta, a village outside Jerusalem." 

In February 1948, Zionists destroyed it. Expelled its residents. Ethnically cleansed them "to take control of Jerusalem." 

"Odeh grew up as a" Ramallah, West Bank refugee. In 1969, Israeli soldiers lawlessly arrested her pre-dawn.

Interrogators tortured her "for twenty-five days." Beat her brutally. "(F)rom head to toe with sticks and metal bars."

Electro-shocked her genitalia, breasts and other body parts. Forced her to watch a male prisoner tortured to death.

Vowed not to confess to crimes she didn't commit. Told she'd be killed otherwise. Withstood Israeli ruthlessness valiantly.

Until her father was ordered to rape her. Signed a bogus confession preventing it. Admitting what she didn't do.

Help orchestrate two West Bank explosions. Killing two civilians. "Even then, her torturers raped her with a thick wooden stick," said Silver.

Barbarians by any standard. Weeks later in military court, she renounced her confession.

It didn't matter. She was wrongfully imprisoned for 10 years. Along with 75 other Palestinians.

She represents the best of Arab/American society. A role model for everyone to emulate. 

Deutsch called charges against her the result of a "fishing expedition." Part of Chicago/Minneapolis FBI witch-hunt investigations. Targeting anti-war supporters. Palestinian ones.

Deutsch said "selected use of the criminal law…target(s) protected political work." Argued for dismissing all charges. Brought against Odeh unjustly.

In pre-trial motions, saying an illegitimate Israeli regime convicted her. Based on her torture-extracted confession. 

In kangaroo military tribunal proceedings. Convicting over 99% of defendants. Innocence doesn't matter. Guilt by accusation suffices.

What no legitimate judge would accept. Earlier US Supreme Court decisions ruled torture-extracted confessions illegal. What Drain ignored during trial. 

Excluding evidence vital to Odeh's defense. Including her illegitimate Israeli military court conviction.

At the same time, permitting dozens of Israeli documents. Confessions of involvement in two bombings. Extracted under torture omitted.

Saying "(t)he validity of the Defendant's conviction is not an issue for the jury's determination."

Deutsch said he plans to appeal. Filing a motion to reconsider Odeh's detention. An officer led her from court in handcuffs.

"I'm very strong," she told supporters. "I feel the verdict is not justice. The government did not allow us to defend ourselves."

Guilt by accusation alone suffices. Official US policy. Justice is systematically denied. 

America's most vulnerable suffer horrifically. Muslims are war on terror victims.

A woman watching proceedings via video link called Drain's order "haram." Arabic for "sinful." "Forbidden."

Deutsch expressed concern about jurors speaking to government prosecutors post-trial. Declining to meet with defense attorneys.

Drain's "very unusual" comment post-conviction "was a window into (his) thinking," Deutsch said.

"We feel we have some very strong issues for appeal, and we hope somebody will listen to us."

Justice remains denied. A travesty by any standard.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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