10 March 2015
Rasmea Odeh’s speech at International Women’s Day fundraising event in Chicago
March 8th, 2015
I’m so glad to join you today, to express my pleasure to be back amongst all of my family, friends, supporters, and the community who I love and respect so much.
I’m so grateful for the support, care, and endless love you have shown me, and for so much of the time and effort you have dedicated to the case since my arrest in October 2013. Your support gives me important strength, and continues to allow me the resilience to achieve justice.
I’m so lucky to have all of you in my life. I want to tell you that your activism and creative support changed the negative reaction against me, especially when I was in the detention center. Your intensive phone calls and demonstrations, and the support letters that I received from you, played a great role in breaking the isolation and providing a warm feeling in my heart and mind in the freezing cell. With your support, I was able to face all of the challenges and difficulties that threatened my life and my morale!
Friends and supporters,
You are all coming together today to celebrate International Women’s Day, to support me and my legal team, and to stand up for justice. As you know, justice is not a gift or handout that we wait for someone to give to us! Justice is a human right that must be fought for and won. The way women all over the world are fighting for their rights and the rights of their people. We celebrate them today, and I especially want to recognize the dozens of Palestinian women who are political prisoners in Israeli jails. I lived that for 10 years, and I know how difficult it is. They need your support and your solidarity. Together we will achieve justice and freedom and make positive change and a better future for our communities all over the country and the world.
Challenges are not frightening, as long as we believe in our rights and the principles that we stand for, have confidence in ourselves, and rise up together. We become stronger and more effective. Then we can achieve miracles.
When I was incarcerated, I learned from my attorneys that people and families in Illinois and other states pledged their businesses and properties to get me released on bail. When the government refused this and asked for cash, a special one of you donated his life savings to get me released. All this incredible support from my closest friends is extremely appreciated! You are helping me to stand up strongly, whether during the incarceration as I defeated the sealed and frozen cell, or as I continue to fight for my freedom with my brilliant legal team.
You will also help me greatly when you join us at my sentencing on March 12. Whether I am released on bond or even sentenced to more prison, I will be appealing and will need your continued support. With all of you standing beside me, I will continue to feel like I’m not alone.
Before I finish, I would like to remark that we all need to continue to work hard to eliminate the disease of racism and national oppression against Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, Black people, Latinos, and other people of color in this country.
On a daily basis, we watch the hate crimes that kill innocent people, just like those 3 beautiful Arab American Muslim young people in North Carolina. Or the institutional police violence that killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in New York, and so many other mostly Black men in the U.S. These tragedies and others reflect the extreme hate that some in this country have for Arabs, Muslims, African Americans, and others. The hate is not just from individuals, though. It is encouraged and supported in many political and media circles that we know are sometimes responsible for the way our communities are treated! They make us out into criminals to support their political agendas, so we should recognize this, and unite to resist it.
Lastly, I would like to extend my special warm greetings to every one of you, those who I have already met before and those who I have not yet met. I am sure that all of us have the same hopes and dreams that we have dedicated our lives to. We all stand for social justice and liberation in this country the same way my people have dedicated their lives to the liberation of Palestine. I wish you all the best.
I’m sure many of you will be in Detroit on March 12 at the sentencing hearing, and I want you to know that I can face anything at any time with you by my side. Thank you very much to all of you and the organizers of this event.
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