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Statement from Sarah Martin:

Two weeks ago I was informed that I and two others have had our subpoenas to appear before a grand jury in Chicago reactivated. I was first subpoenaed on Sept. 27, three days after the nationally coordinated FBI raids on the five homes of anti-war and international solidarity activists in Minneapolis and three homes in Chicago. We were subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in Chicago that is investigating “material support” to terrorist organizations, specifically FARC in Columbia and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Because I had not been raided and my things confiscated, the subpoena said I had to hand over all pictures, notes, documents, and any other items relating to travel in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Colombia. Ironically, a year ago I had tried to go on a delegation to the occupied Palestinian territories but was denied entry by Israel because of “security concerns.”

Our first subpoenas were dropped after the federal prosecutor was informed none of us would testify. We’d all be “pleading the Fifth” Amendment. We understood this probably wasn’t the end of it and that sooner or later we would hear from them again. As it turned out, for three of us it was sooner. In a couple of weeks our lawyers will meet with the federal attorney, and we will find out if we are offered immunity. If so, we will be faced with the choice of either testifying about our friends and their politics, or, if we refuse, being held in contempt and probably going to jail for several weeks or months. For the other two subpoenaed with me this time who actually did go to Palestine, testifying could seriously endanger Palestinians they met who are resisting the brutal Israeli occupation. FBI and grand jury repression has a long and ugly history of destroying political movements. As the U.S. public attitude toward Israel has become more critical because of the horrific assault on Gaza in 2008 and the killing last year of the eight solidarity activists on the Gaza Flotilla, the government is trying to suppress solidarity activism. The “material support to terrorist organization” law is the weapon. First enacted in 1996, the law has expanded through both Patriot Acts and recently (June 2010) with a Supreme Court decision in the case of Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project. It now threatens democratic rights to assemble, associate and speak with people who resist the brutal U.S. supported regime in Columbia and the 60-year U.S supported Israeli occupation of Palestine. Just the threat of prosecution could have a chilling effect on international solidarity activism. The firsthand reports and stories brought back by solidarity activists are essential to understanding what is being done in our name and with our money and has been key in building vital movements that successfully challenge U.S. foreign policy.

The broad-based community outrage to the current repression has been enormous and inspiring. This struggle will be long and expensive, but we will continue to organize and mobilize. Our constitutional rights of free speech and the ability to dissent and challenge government policies we find unjust are part of the democratic process. Our continued efforts to make this a more just and peaceful world are at stake.



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