Israel: Detained Palestinian poet heads to trial over poem

5 September 2016

dareen tatour israel palestine
On 6 September 2016, Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour heads back to trial facing charges that one of her poems posted on YouTube and two Facebook posts constitute “incitement to violence”, a charge that carries a prison term of up to eight years.

The charges mainly relate to Tatour’s poem on YouTube, ‘Resist my people, resist’, which is read over images of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers, and how it should be interpreted, reported PEN America on 17 June 2016. According to PEN, the poem, originally written in Arabic, was translated by “an Israeli police officer with no professional experience as a literary translator”.

Non-profit news centre Common Dreams reported on 1 September 2016 that the prosecution has approached the judge on the case to prohibit the defence team to present their own translation of the poem into Hebrew.

“In a democratic nation, a free and fair trial must allow a proper translation of the poem, by a qualified expert,” Freemuse Executive Director Ole Reitov said. “Although international law requires the prohibition of expression that incites discrimination, hostility or violence; governments and courts far too often use overly broad and vague interpretations of incitement to stifle legitimate free speech. Any court must see the statement in a context, analyze the intention, content of the expression, the extent and magnitude of the expression and the likelihood, including imminence, of the advocated action occurring. The court has done neither in the case of of Doreen Tatour.”

PEN International has called for all charges to be dropped against Tatour and for her to be released from house arrest.

“Dareen Tatour is on trial because she wrote a poem. Dareen Tatour is critical of Israeli policies, but governments that declare themselves as democracies do not curb dissent,” PEN International president Jennifer Clement said on 5 September 2015. “Words like those of Dareen Tatour have been used by other revolutionary poets, during the Vietnam war, during other liberation wars, and they can be found in the works of Sufiya Kamal of Bangladesh, of Ernesto Cardenal of Nicaragua, and so on.”

Charges based on posts
Tatour’s charges also relate to a Facebook post she made about an incident of a Palestinian woman being shot at a bus station, commenting: “I am the next martyr”. Tatour explained to Al Jazeera that what she meant was that she, “as a Palestinian, or any Palestinian, could be killed at any time”.

The World Post reported on 18 April 2016 that according to non-profit Palestinian Prisoners Club, over 150 arrests took place between October 2015 and February 2016 over Facebook posts, and that there is no legal framework in place to proper legal action on cases of incitement via social media, meaning such cases are being arbitrarily handled.

Tatour’s ordeal so far
Tatour was arrested on 11 October 2015 when police, without a search warrant or arrest warrant, entered her family’s home in the town of Reineh, near Nazareth, and arrested her. The poet spent a month in prison before she was indicted on charges of “incitement to violence” and “support for a terrorist organisation”.

After the indictment, Tatour spent the next three months being moved between three different prisons and then was put under house arrest for six months in a Tel Aviv suburb where she couldn’t leave the apartment and had no access to internet.

“Then, in the wake of the mounting solidarity campaign protesting the undemocratic practices against me, I was transferred to the house arrest in my town, Reineh,” Tatour told Salon in an interview published on 10 August 2016. “Here, I’m not allowed to go out, except for just six hours per week, and they’re making me wear an unremovable electronic bracelet on my ankle to monitor my movements.”

» Read an English translation of Tatour’s poem by poet Tariq al Haydar here
» Join the Jewish Voice for Peace petition and campaign for Dareen Tatour here

Photo: Free Dareen Tatour Facebook page


» PEN International – 5 September 2016:
Israel: All charges against poet Dareen Tatour must be dropped

» Common Dreams – 1 September 2016:
Ahead of hearing, Palestinian poet arrested for social media posts receives widespread support from literary figures

» Salon – 10 August 2016:
Dareen Tatour, Palestinian poet imprisoned by Israel for social media posts, shares her story

» Al Jazeera – 20 June 2016:
Israel prosecutes a Palestinian poet over Youtube poem

» PEN America – 17 June 2016:
Detention of poet Dareen Tatour signals worrying escalation in Israeli repression

» The World Post – 18 April 2016:
Israel-Palestine: Social media as a tool of oppression

More from Freemuse

» 22 March 2016: Israel: Proposed ‘loyalty bill’ to impact on artistic expression

» 3 November 2015: Israel/Palestine: The political legacy of muzzling artist

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