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Berlin protests after Palestinian activist visa cancelled

DEMONSTRATIONS were held in Berlin on Saturday after authorities ordered a prominent Palestinian activist to cease all political activities and leave the country, cancelling her visa.

Rasmea Odeh had been due to speak at a cultural centre in the German capital, however the event was cancelled after pressure from Israel, the US and organisations including the far-right AfD.

They objected to her presence due to her conviction for life in prison for her role in a 1969 supermarket bombing in which two students, Leon Kanner and Eddie Joffe, were killed.

She was also convicted for membership of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, however was released as part of a prisoner swap programme in 1980.

The hall where Ms Odeh had been due to speak was attacked and vandalised in the days before the event, with staff reporting receiving threatening phone calls and harassment.

Although initially told the speech on the role of Palestinian women in the struggle for liberation could go ahead, police pulled her aside, handing her a bundle of documents advising Ms Odeh that her visa had been cancelled.

Berlin mayor Michael Mueller welcomed the decision.

“Anti-Israeli and anti-semitic resentments wrapped up in liberation rhetoric have no business here. I am glad that we have found a way to stop this propaganda,” he said.

However the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network blasted the move as an attack on freedom of speech to silence the voice of Palestinians.

“This was clearly a racist attack on the right of a Palestinian woman to speak and the right of her audience to hear her,” the group said.

“Through her life, she has been subject to intense state violence: sexual assault, torture, imprisonment, imprisonment again, deportation. 

“The stripping of her visa is only the latest example of state violence directed against Rasmea Odeh in an attempt to block her message from being heard, a message that has garnered her support from Angela Davis, Jewish Voice for Peace and countless supporters of justice worldwide.”

The group claimed that other Palestinians were followed by police after the event and quizzed over chants opposing German foreign policy and their relationship with Ms Odeh.

“This is an attempt to intimidate young people from being involved in the movement for justice in Palestine,” the group said.

The group is calling for international solidarity for Ms Odeh. A demonstration will be held at the Ministry of Justice tomorrow.

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