Newsletter for the 2nd Quarter of 2014

Introducing our Newsletter for May 2014. Please enjoy and catch up on all the work the Chicago NLG and its committees have been up to! This time the the newsletter is interactive, so all of the links (email addresses, web sites, Convention pic) actually work if you click on them.

2nd Quarter Newsletter

NLG Fact-Finding Delegation Calls for End of U.S.-Backed Administrative Detention of Palestinians by Israel

NEW YORK – Approximately 200 Palestinians from the West Bank have been held for months or years by Israeli occupation forces without access to a just legal system, members of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) learned in a fact-finding delegation from May 18-24, 2014. A formal report is forthcoming, but several observations merit preliminary mention.
About 135 incarcerated Palestinians have begun a hunger strike—and more are joining daily—demanding an end to administrative detention, which under the Fourth Geneva Convention is permitted for only a very short time and in situations of severe urgency. After a widely publicized 2012 mass hunger strike, Israel agreed to improve some security prison conditions throughout the system and release a number of administrative detainees. But it has abrogated many of its promises and re-arrested many of those released, again without charge or trial.
As in 2012, the health of several current strikers is failing fast, exacerbated by inadequate medical care. The NLG joins these Palestinian prisoners, most of whom have now been on hunger strike for over 33 days, in calling for the immediate end of the policy and practice of administrative detention.
The NLG delegation concluded that administrative detention is used primarily as a tool to intimidate and deter political resistance and undermine the popular indigenous leadership. This is in contradiction to Israel’s supposed commitment to diplomatically end its 47-year-old occupation of the West Bank.
The U.S. government is in large part responsible for the increasing oppression of Palestinian life under occupation. “Despite pretending to be an honest broker, the U.S. has continued to provide Israel with more than $3 billion a year in military aid along with diplomatic and other financial backing. That aid must immediately stop,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, NLG President and delegation participant.
The delegation learned that approximately 5,000 Palestinians currently held in military prisons –including hundreds of children – suffer from conditions far worse than those of Israeli convicts and the handful of settlers convicted of security offences such as violent attacks on Palestinians or destruction of Palestinian property. The assassin of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, for instance, has been allowed to marry and father children in prison – an unheard of perk when it comes to Palestinian “security” prisoners, the vast majority convicted of charges that were political in nature. Military courts rely on thousands of arbitrary military orders to define charges and sentences. 99.74% of Palestinians who go before military courts are convicted, most on the basis of coerced confessions.
Most administrative detainees are  political leaders, including, for instance, elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, now defunct in part because of the arrests. A military judge can order them held for up to six months at a time—renewable indefinitely—based on supposed secret evidence of unknown offenses and no trial.
The NLG delegation met with human rights advocates in the West Bank and in Israel and learned of many other techniques used to fortify the occupation and pave the way for Israeli annexation of large swaths of territory. Methods include the oppressive “separation barrier” that drastically restricts movement and violent repression of civil protest against it—including the widely publicized killing of two unarmed teens just before the delegation arrived; relentless land confiscations for expansion of Jewish-only settlements; widespread home demolitions and discriminatory residential rules reminiscent of apartheid in areas where ethnic cleansing is an openly stated goal; and pervasive economic exploitation of labor, resources and consumers. These measures stand in stark violation of international humanitarian law.
On May 23, delegates heard firsthand from the family of a “wanted” 26-year-old, Moataz Washahe. In the town of Bir Zeit in February 2014, hundreds of soldiers rocketed and bulldozed their home, then shot Washahe 65 times, killing him. Washahe was unarmed. “Backing by the U.S. government gives Israel the cover of legitimacy to continue its violations of human rights and the rule of law,” said delegate Andrew Dalack, Co-Chair of the NLG Palestine Subcommittee.
A detailed report from delegation members is forthcoming for submission to Congress, the Obama administration and the general public.
The National Lawyers Guild was formed in 1937 as the nation’s first racially integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.
May 29, 2014
Tasha Moro
Communications Coordinator
212-679-5100, ext. 15

Monday 5/19 – Criminalizing Immigrants: The Case of Rasmea Odeh

In the early morning of Tuesday, October 22, 2013, sixty-five year old Rasmea Odeh, was arrested at her home by Department of Homeland Security agents. She was indicted in federal court that same morning, charged with Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization, an allegation based on answer she gave on a 20 year old immigration application. Rasmea is the Associate Director of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), and has dedicated her life to serve and empower the Arab American and immigrant communities. Earlier this year, Rasmea received the “Outstanding Community Leader Award” from the Chicago Cultural Alliance. Learn more about the case of Rasmea Odeh, and the selective prosecution of key activists in the Palestinian and anti-war solidarity communities. Rasmea’s criminal trial starts on June 10, 2014 at the U.S. District Courthouse in Detroit.


Media Links:

Info on trial/petition:

Discussion about Puerto Rico and Oscar Lopez Rivera on 5/2!

More information:
Wilma Reverón: human rights activist and attorney practicing employment, civil rights and family law in Puerto Rico. She is a member of the Board of Advisors of the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) Puerto Rico National Chapter and past Senior Staff Attorney. She is member of the Commission on Constitutional Development of the Puerto Rico Bar Association that is dedicated to the study of the political relationship between the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the United States. Since 1980, she has made numerous appearances before the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization on the question of Puerto Rico and before Caribbean Regional Seminars sponsored by the Committee as an expert on decolonization. She has delivered papers and participated in conferences at universities, book fairs and  seminars  related to the decolonization of Puerto Rico and other Caribbean Territories, such as the Saint Marteen Book Fair and the “50/50 UCCI/UWI Conference: Surveying the Past and Mapping the Future”  on political and constitutional developments in the Caribbean Overseas Territories and the Island Nations.  She has also made presentations in special tribunals on human rights issues such as Vieques and police repression in Puerto Rico. Her articles appear in Puerto Rico newspapers such as Claridad and El Nuevo Día and international magazines and publications such as Tricontinental (OSPAAL),  Correos del Orinoco (Venezuela) and De Igual a Igual in Argentina. She is currently co-president of the National Hostosiano Congress Independentista Movement, in charge of international relations.
Attorney Alejandro Torres Rivera received his Bachelor’s Degree from the Social Sciences Department at the University of Puerto Rico in 1973, with a major in Political Science. He attended law school at Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, graduating in 1976.
His first job was as a Hearing Examiner at the Labor Relations Board of Puerto Rico. He has been in private practice since 1977, focusing in labor law as an attorney for workers and unions.
He is an adjunct professor at the Institute of Labor Relations at the University of Puerto Rico’s Río Piedras campus and at Interamerican University School of Law. He also gives workshops and courses as an instructor in the Worker Education Program at the Institute of Labor Relations. He is a frequent columnist at the weekly newspaper Claridad and has published many political, professional and historical essays in professional journals and in the academic community in Puerto Rico and elsewhere. He has been a member of the Commission for the Study of Constitutional Development of the Bar Association of Puerto Rico since 1996, and has chaired the Commission since 2012.
Attorney Torres Rivera is the author of several books, including Militarismo y Descolonización: Puerto Rico ante el Siglo 21 [Militarism and Decolonization: Puerto Rico in the 21st Century];  El Derecho a la Libre Determinación en Puerto Rico: los derechos de un pueblo colonizado ante el proceso de militarización de la sociedad puertorriqueña [The Right of Self-Determination in Puerto Rico: the rights of a colonized people in the face of the process of the militarization of Puerto Rican society]; El Trabajo por la Unidad Independentista: el desarrollo histórico del Congreso Nacional Hostosiano [The Work for Independentista Unity: historical development of the National Hostosiano Congress]; Independencia, Soberanía y Libre Determinación en el Caribe: el caso colonial de Puerto Rico y sus repercusiones para la región [Independence, Sovereignty and Self-Determination in the Caribbean: the colonial case of Puerto Rico and its repercussions for the region]; Visión de Vieques: el uso del territorio nacional puertorriqueño por parte de la Fuerzas Armadas de Estados Unidos (noviembre de 1999 a diciembre de 2003) [Vision of Vieques: use of the national Puerto Rican territory by the United States Armed Forces (November 1999 to December 2003);  El Alca y los peligros para las economías de la región del Caribe [ALCA and the dangers for the economies of the Caribbean region]; La Asamblea Constitucional de Status [The Status Constitutional Assembly]; and the latest book, Los Conflictos entre el Mundo Musulmán y Occidente, ¿qué es lo nuevo?, ¿qué es lo viejo?: apuntes generales [Conflicts between the Muslim World and the West, what’s new, what’s old: general points].
He has participated with other scholars and investigators in the production of the following books: Vieques ante el 2003: posibilidades y peligros [Vieques facing 2003: possibilities and dangers] and El Trabajo y las Relaciones Obrero-Patronales [Work and Worker-Boss Relationships]. He is also the author of many essays and articles about professional and political topics.
Attorney Alejandro Torres Rivera is also a member of the National Board of the National Hostosiano Congress Independentista Movement and its Executive Commission. Since 2013 he has chaired the Board of Directors of the Francisco Manrique Cabrera Foundation. He also participates actively as a panelist in several analytical radio programs. Since May of 2008 he has directed the international analytical weekly radio program Window to the World… from Puerto Rico, on WKAQ 580.

NextGen Happy Hour Friday May 2!

The next Happy Hour has been set for First Friday May 2nd!  In honor of the date’s proximity to May Day this month’s Happy Hour is co-sponsered by Chicago NLG’s Labor & Employment Committee!

We are first meeting at The Haymarket Memorial: 175 N. Desplaines St. Chicago, IL 60661 at 5:30 PM.  Many people haven’t seen it and it will be a nice reminder of the rich history of Labor in Chicago!

Then we will be walking over to the nearby Dylan’s Tavern and Grill for the rest of the festivities!  Dylan’s is located at 118 S. Clinton St, Chicago, IL 60661 for anyone who can’t make it to the memorial.

We hope to see you there!

Upcoming CLE: Litigating Workplace Sexual Violence Cases

Save the date for an upcoming CLE co-sponsored by TUPOCC!

Building Your Arsenal: Tools for Successfully Litigating Workplace Sexual Violence Cases

Learn more about successfully representing clients in sexual harassment cases. Filing a discrimination complaint may only be one component of an effective representation strategy. This interactive session will provide tools to better represent clients struggling with post-traumatic stress and encourage participants to use the law creatively to empower survivors.

Where: Kirkland & Ellis, LLP

             300 N. LaSallle, Room 7KLM

When: April 17, 2014

            1:00pm – 5:00pm

4 hour CLE credit will be given!

Discussion will include an analysis of:

  • The Illinois Gender Violence Act
  • Immigration relief for survivors
  • Survivor centered litigation
  • Anti-trafficking laws, and more


Sheerine Alemzadeh, Staff Attorney with Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation

Karla Altmayer, Equal Justice Works Fellow with LAF

Allison Creekmur, VISTA attorney with LAF

*RSVP to with your name and organization name by April 4, 2014