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Freemuse condemns Israeli court prison sentence of Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour

1 August 2018

On 31 July 2018, Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour was sentenced to five months in Israeli prison on the charge of inciting terrorism and supporting Palestinian armed group Islamic Jihad who are considered a terrorist group by the Israeli government, reported Al Jazeera.

Sentenced by the Nazareth District Court, Tatour, who is an Israeli citizen, was convicted by the court on 3 May 2018. She received her sentence after serving nearly three years under house arrest in connection with three social media posts, one of which included a reading of one of her poems, that authorities allege constituted “incitement to terrorism”, reported centrist Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post.

Freemuse calls for the release of Dareen Tatour and for charges to be dropped in her case.

“Dareen Tatour has already unjustly spent years of her life in detention and living under prolonged house arrest for her art and expression. Her restricted life will now continue for several months. Israeli authorities must respect everyone’s universal human right to freedom of expression, regardless of their conflicts with Palestinians or any other group of people,” Freemuse Executive Director Dr Srirak Plipat said.  

Following her sentencing on Tuesday, Tatour said she was not surprised with the verdict, noted popular left-liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

“I expected prison and that’s what happened. I didn’t expect justice. The prosecution was political to begin with because I’m Palestinian, because it’s about free speech and I’m imprisoned because I’m Palestinian,” she said.

The poet’s charges are in relation to three social media posts she shared, with the main one being a video of Palestinians in conflict with Israeli troops serving as the backdrop for a recording of Tatour reading her poem, Qawim ya sha’abi, qawimhum (Resist, my people, resist them). The other two posts related to the case included one that prosecutors used to argue Tatour’s affiliation with Islamic Jihad, as well as a photo of a Palestinian woman who was shot and wounded by Israeli police after she brandished a knife. The photo was captioned with the words: “I am the next martyr”, according to BBC.

Initially detained in October 2015, the poet spent several months in prison before being placed under house arrest in January 2016. From there she was confined to a flat in Tel Aviv where she was prohibited from publishing her work and accessing the internet, reported Al Jazeera.

Her 2015 arrest came at a time when ‘lone-wolf’ attacks by Palestinians against Israelis were on the rise. The Israeli government blamed social media as a means of inciting the violent behavior that resulted in the deaths of about 55 Israelis since October 2015. 

Tatour has reportedly already served three months of her five-month sentence and is expected to fulfill the remaining two months starting from 8 August 2018, according to PEN International.

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