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Building support for Rasmea Odeh in Salt Lake City

By Justin Richardson

Tom Burke of the Committed to Stop FBI Repression speaking in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City, UT – Activists gathered at the Salt Lake City Public Library on June 4 to hear Tom Burke, of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. Fifteen people listened intently as Burke recounted his experiences as a longtime political activist targeted for repression by the U.S. government. Burke is one of the Anti-war 23.

In 2010 and 2011, the FBI harassed, raided and subpoenaed to a grand jury 23 anti-war activists for their solidarity with international anti-war movements and union organizers overseas. Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas has stated there is an ongoing investigation.

Burke spoke on how to deal with the FBI, “Don’t answer any questions besides your name, your address, and your social if asked. Tell them ‘I am happy to not answer any more questions until I speak with my lawyer.’” He shared the website and urged those attending to read both the FBI raid documents discovered in one activist’s home as well as the FBI affidavits used to raid anti-war activists’ homes.

The main focus of Burke’s talk, however, was Rasmea Odeh. Odeh is an international solidarity and women’s rights activist from Palestine doing tremendous work in the Arab American community in the U.S. She came to the U.S. in the 1990s and is a well-known public figure in Chicago for her activism in women’s rights and healthcare.

The Department of Homeland Security arrested her on Oct. 22, 2013 for allegedly falsifying her immigration documents upon entering the U.S. The government claims Odeh failed to report that the Israeli military tortured and imprisoned her for organizing for Palestinian liberation in her early life. She is now facing 10 years in jail and deportation.

“We must stand in solidarity with Rasmea Odeh. We have to get out, organize and fight to win against the U.S. government repression of a strong progressive woman who stands for all that is good in this world!” Burke said. “Our vision is a world where Palestinians and Jewish people can live together in a single united Palestine in peace.”

Burke finished his talk saying, “We support women, we support Palestine and we must stand in solidarity with Rasmea Odeh!”

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