As judge refuses to let her speak, Rasmea Odeh sentenced to deportation

August 27, 2017

Rasmea Odeh

Palestinian-American freedom fighter Rasmea Odeh made her final court appearance in Detroit on Aug. 17 to hear the sentence agreed upon earlier: removal from the U.S.

Odeh had hoped to make her final public statement before the court, but in another of many violations of the rights of this political activist, Judge Gershwin Drain suppressed her reading of the speech in his courtroom.

Some 150 supporters joined Odeh in Detroit for the hearing. The defense, prosecution and judge had already agreed in April to a plea agreement. Drain interrupted Odeh’s speech three separate times and even threatened to jail her for contempt of court.

According to the Rasmea Defense Committee, despite its insisting “for almost four years that the immigration case brought against her in October of 2013 was nothing but a pretext to attack the Palestine support movement in the U.S., Drain tried to protect Israel and the U.S. government from Rasmea’s brutal description of their crimes against her, her family and the Palestinian people as a whole.

“Forced to stop reading her statement, Rasmea ad-libbed: ‘I’m not a terrorist and my people are not terrorists. [The Israeli military] tortured me. They raped me. They destroyed my house. … I will raise my voice to say this: we have the right to struggle for our country.’

“And at a post-hearing press conference, she added, ‘Really, I feel angry because the judge didn’t allow me to [tell] my story … but we will continue to struggle for our cause. We will liberate our Palestine, all [of] Palestine.’

“Drain ended the proceedings by restating the agreed-upon sentence, which includes no further jail time, the revocation of Rasmea’s U.S. citizenship and deportation. He also fined her $1,000.”

On Aug. 12 in Chicago, a standing-room-only crowd of over 1,200 people packed the International Union of Operating Engineers hall in solidarity with Odeh.

Statement to the court

Below is part of Odeh’s statement, which can be found in full at

On this court’s platform, I’m standing today to raise my voice on behalf of myself as a Palestinian woman and on behalf of all Palestinian people, whether under occupation, in refugee camps or scattered in exile across the world.

Honorable Judge Drain: First, I would like to clarify that my following message is not directed at you personally.

I am a Palestinian woman who was born into a family that had simple dreams and desires to live in peace and tranquility, far away from bombs, explosions, murder and displacement.

But those dreams turned into a nightmare at the hands of the Zionist Haganah gangs, whose crimes are hard to imagine. The Zionists committed massacres, killing children and the elderly without any consideration of human values. … They turned us into strangers in our own country, and pushed us into the inhumane conditions of refugee camps inside Palestine and other Arab countries. …

I personally experienced a harsh, unstable and terror-filled life in Palestine, like all my people under occupation. I was pushed off my land two separate times, my family home was destroyed twice, and my young sister was killed by the trauma of war. I was a political prisoner who was brutally tortured and raped by Israeli soldiers and prison authorities, and was almost killed more than once. …

Black-Palestinian unity and solidarity is at its absolute height in the U.S., because both peoples recognize that the racist nature of the U.S. government and the racist nature of Israel are the same.