Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian political activist, has strongly criticized the German authorities for trying to muzzle her.
Odeh left Germany this week after a Berlin court upheld a deportation order issued against her.
Before her departure, Odeh stated that she “felt sorry” for Germany. The treatment she received was at odds with Germany’s image of being a “democratic country,” she suggested.
Odeh, 72, argued that she could not see what was “dangerous” about how she had been invited to give a speech in Germany about the situation facing Palestinian women.
When Odeh arrived to address a Berlin event on 15 March, she was surrounded by police. The officers forced her away from the area.
Odeh was handed German-language documents, containing her deportation order. When they were translated, she learned that the allegations contained in them were “copied and pasted” from smears in media stories.
The stories referred to how Odeh had been convicted of bombing offenses by Israel in 1969. Yet they omitted to mention how she had been tortured until she confessed to the allegations against her.
“I can’t breathe”
“Everybody knows that I faced torture because they tortured me psychologically, by beating and sexual torture,” Odeh told the Berlin media outlet Redfish. “Sometimes I can’t breathe when I remember how they tortured me. They used electricity on my body. They tortured young Palestinian people in front of me and some of them passed away from torture.”
Odeh’s lawyers contended that the deportation order against her violated the rights to free speech and freedom of movement. A Berlin court nonetheless upheld the order.
After Odeh was banned from speaking on 15 March, Palestine solidarity activists sought to have her address an event 12 days later.
When Odeh was also banned from speaking at the second event, its organizers made sure that her voice could be heard by video.
“I have lived a harsh and unstable life, full of injustice, and with all of the daughters and sons of my people have been subjected to racist and unjust attacks over and over again, and still I resist,” Odeh told her supporters.
“My reception in Berlin confirms this – in the wrong way. And it emphasizes the presence of narrow-minded, racist forces – as well as emphasizing your presence on the frontline confronting racism, Zionism and oppression. In this context, the visible conflict between the camp that refuses to acknowledge human rights and our camp, which calls for equality, democracy and true freedom for all inhabitants of the land, is intensifying.”