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Israel: Verdict delayed in trial of poet Dareen Tatour, detained for more than two years

Monday 30 October 2017 - 12:00am

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. She was arrested in a pre-dawn police raid on her home on 11 October 2015 and spent over three months in police detention and half a year in house arrest in forced exile before being allowed to continue her house arrest at home. Two years later, her trial continues and she remains under house arrest, the conditions of which continue to be strict and include the prevention of her movement outside of her home unless under the supervision of a licensed chaperone and a blanket ban on accessing the Internet or on publishing any of her works.

In October 2017, PEN International’s President, Jennifer Clement, and PEN’s Executive Director, Carles Torner, visited Tatour at her home in Reineh near Nazareth. This is Tatour’s message to the PEN membership:

‘As a detained poet, your support gave me a spark of hope that would never extinguish, and it confirmed that there is someone who works to protect the rights of the writer and the poet as a human being, and to ensure that the spark of creativity remains alight forever. Thank you PEN International. Thanks very much for visiting me, for your support, and standing by poets and writers who suffer and face imprisonment like myself solely for expressing their views through art.’

PEN International believes that Dareen Tatour is being targeted for her peaceful exercise of her right to free expression and continues to call for her immediate and unconditional release one year after campaigning for her on the Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2016.

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Please send appeals to the Israeli authorities:

  • Urging them to release poet Dareen Tatour from house arrest immediately and unconditionally;
  • Calling for all charges against Dareen Tatour to be dropped as she is being held solely for her peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression.

Write to:

Minister of Justice
Ayelet Shaked
Ministry of Justice
29 Salah al-Din Street Jerusalem, 91010, Israel
Fax: +972 2 628 5438
Email: Salutation:
Dear Minister

And copies to: Attorney General
Avichai Mendelbilt
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:

Please check with PEN International if sending letters after 15 November 2017

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:;

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.

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 soldiers and 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). The charges relate to a video, which Tatour posted on 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 stones at the Israeli military. At the time of her arrest, the video had been viewed a mere 153 times according to the indictment.

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 – for continuation of the intifada. She goes on to call for an intifada. The term intifada in Arabic means awakening and 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 and mistakenly suspected as planning an attack in a train station (she survived her wounds and was not accused of any violence). Tatour explained that she posted Isra’a Abed’s image as a protest against the shooting of the innocents. The image reportedly appeared alongside Tatour’s profile photo which said “I am the next martyr,” which she published in July 2014 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. During subsequent hearings, the court relaxed some of the requirements of her house arrest; while she still has no access to the internet, she is no longer required to wear an ankle monitor and is now able to leave the house between 9am and 7pm, however, she is required to be with a ‘licensed supervisor’ at all times. In March 2017, Dr. Yoni Mendel, a respected literary translator, provided a translation of Tatour’s poem that was substantively different from the prosecution’s translation. The defense presented evidence that charges against Tatour were based on a mistranslation and misinterpretation of her poem and posts. In April, the prosecution and defence were given 45 days each to submit their case summaries. The verdict was due to be heard at a hearing scheduled for 17 October 2017. However, the hearing was delayed due to a request by the defense to present new evidence to the court. The new evidence should be presented on November 9. New date for the verdict will be set later.

For further information on Tatour’s case, see:

For further details please contact Sahar Halaimzai 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: