15 November 2016 – On the Day of the Imprisoned Writer take action with PEN for writers imprisoned for their work.
Poet Dareen Tatour, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, is currently standing trial on charges of “support for a terrorist organisation” and several counts of incitement to violence in connection with her poetry and social media activity. After reviewing the charge sheet and the evidence against her, PEN has concluded that Dareen Tatour has been targeted for her poetry and activism and is calling for her immediate and unconditional release.
Tatour’s arrest at her home in Reineh, a small town near Nazareth, on 11 October 2015 came amidst a wave of violent attacks on Israeli citizens, and a corresponding crackdown by the Israeli authorities, which saw its officers given greater opportunity to open fire. She is currently under house arrest until the conclusion of her trial on charges of “support for a terrorist organisation” (under articles 4(b) + (g) of the Prevention of Terror Ordinance-1948) and several counts of incitement to violence (under article 144(d) 2 of the Penal Code-1977).
On 3 October 2015, Tatour posted a video to YouTube in which she recites one of her poems entitled, ‘Qawim ya sha’abi, qawimhum (Resist, my people, resist them).’ In the video, the poem is set to music against a backdrop of video footage of Palestinian resistance – as men throw rocks at the Israeli military. At the time of her arrest, the video had been viewed a mere 113 times, according to news sources.
Tatour has argued that the entire case against her centres on a mistranslation of her poem, which she regards as a legitimate protest against crimes committed by Israeli settlers and soldiers occupying Palestinian land. The prosecution has reportedly petitioned the court not to allow Tatour’s defence team to present an alternative translation of the poem from Arabic into Hebrew.
Tatour also faces charges in connection with two Facebook posts. In the first, on 4 October, Tatour remarks upon an apparent call by Islamic Jihad – a banned terrorist organisation – to form a continuation of the intifada. She goes on to call for an intifada. The term intifada may broadly be understood as resistance. The second Facebook post to have aroused the suspicions of the authorities – dated 9 October 2015 – is a photograph of Isra’a Abed, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, who was shot by security officers while carrying a knife in a train station. Tatour reports that she did not believe at the time that Isra’a Abed was in possession of a knife on the basis of the photograph. The image reportedly appeared alongside Tatour’s profile photo which said “I will be the next martyr,” in solidarity with others protesting the murder of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir.
A hearing scheduled for 6 September 2016 was postponed after the translator declared a conflict of interest and withdrew, prolonging Tatour’s trial by a further two months. The next hearings are scheduled for 17 and 24 November 2016, during which time the defence is expected to make its case.
I interrogated my soul
during moments of doubt and distraction:
“What of your crime?”
Its meaning escapes me now.
I said the thing and
revealed my thoughts;
I wrote about the current injustice,
wishes in ink,
a poem I wrote…
The charge has worn my body,
from my toes to the top of my head,
for I am a poet in prison,
a poet in the land of art.
I am accused of words,
my pen the instrument.
Ink— blood of the heart— bears witness
and reads the charges.
Listen, my destiny, my life,
to what the judge said:
A poem stands accused,
my poem morphs into a crime.
In the land of freedom,
the artist’s fate is prison.
Excerpt from A Poet Behind Bars by Dareen Tatour, translated into English by Tariq al Haydar
November 2, 2015
Take Action – Share on Twitter, Facebook and other social media
Please send appeals to the Israeli authorities:
- Urging them to release Dareen Tatour from house arrest immediately and unconditionally;
- Calling on them to drop all charges against her as she is being held solely for her peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression.
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
29 Salah al-Din Street Jerusalem, 91010, Israel
Fax: +972 2 640 8402
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Salutation:
And copies to: Attorney General
Ministry of Justice
29 Salah al-Din Street Jerusalem 91010, Israel
Fax: +972 2 530 3367
Please copy your appeals to the Embassy of Israel in your country. A list of embassies can be found here: http://www.allembassies.com/israeli_embassies.htm
PEN members are encouraged to:
- Publish articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press highlighting Dareen Tatour’s case;
- Organise public events, press conferences, poetry readings or demonstrations;
- Join the Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee in translating her poetry, available in the original Arabic here and other languages here;
- If you have not already done so, consider signing this petition for Tatour: https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/dareen/;
Share information about Dareen Tatour and your campaigning for her via social media.
Please use the hashtag #ImprisonedWriter
- #FreeDareen – #Israel must drop all charges against poet Dareen Tatour #ImprisonedWriter @pen_int
- On Day of the #ImprisonedWriter take action for writers imprisoned for exercising their right to #FOE
Consider adopting Dareen Tatour as an Honorary Member of your Centre. Details of how to campaign for honorary members may be found in the Writers in Prison Committee Handbook, available here.
Write to Tatour:
الرينة صندوق بريد 29
الرمز البريدي (الميكود) 16940
Reineh – zip 16940
Prior to her arrest, Dareen Tatour, aged 33, was a little known poet and photographer from the outskirts of Nazareth. In a recent interview, Tatour explained that she uses her poetry and photography as an outlet for her to express her feelings; her outrage and grief. She goes on to explain that although she posted her works online, they would rarely be viewed more than 20-30 times.
She writes of the need for Arab unity in the face of oppression, the absence of the Palestinian voice, and loss; she regularly makes references to those Palestinians who have been killed or have been the targets of violence. She is the author of The Last Invasion (2010).
On 30 September 2016, the Assembly Delegates of PEN International at the organisation’s , 82nd International Congress held in Ourense, Galicia, marked International Translation Day by translating and reading Tatour’s work. PEN Centres from around the world translated Tatour’s poem, A Poet Behind Bars, written on the day she received her indictment.
For further details please contact Emma Wadsworth-Jones at PEN International’s London Office: PEN International, Koops Mil, 162-164 Abbey Street, London SE1 2AN Tel: +44 (0) 207 405 0338 Fax: +44 (0) 207 405 0339 email: Emma.Wadsworth-Jones@pen-international.org