Chicago (AINA) — Hundreds of supporters are expected to attend the trial of Assyrian-American attorney Robert DeKelaita. DeKelaita faces federal immigration fraud charges alleging that the long-time activist has falsified accounts of Christian persecution in Iraq. A protest will take place outside the Dirksen Federal Building in downtown Chicago beginning at 9:00am on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 as his trial begins. The trial is expected to last throughout the week. His supporters, many of whom are survivors of Christian persecution, believe the charges are not only wrongful, but offensive and disgraceful.
DeKelaita was charged (indictment) back in September of 2014. Since then, the Stand with Robert committee has garnered support from thousands of individuals nationwide who’ve expressed their concern over the charges. The allegations are especially painful to the Assyrian-American community, as Assyrian Christians are actively being persecuted in both Iraq and Syria today.
“My sister and her three young children are among the Assyrian hostages in Syria,” says Mimi Odicho, a refugee and former client of DeKelaita’s. “We don’t even know if they’re still alive. Instead of trying to help save them–save these innocent people–the US government is trying to take down a man who has been our people’s only hope for years.”
Hundreds of DeKelaita’s former clients have voiced their support for a man they consider their hero. The charges are viewed by many as a challenge to the community’s collective veracity and the reality of the trauma they have suffered at the hands of Islamic extremists. Narsai Oshana, who was granted asylum and represented by DeKelaita pro-bono, says, “This is not about one man, this is about all of us. Christian persecution in the Middle East is very real. They are trying a man whose only crime is saving innocent lives.”
The courtroom is expected to be filled with DeKelaita’s family members, friends, former clients and colleagues, in addition to religious and community leaders.
©Assyrian International News Agency.