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World Poetry Day 2017 - Take Action for Dareen Tatour

Tuesday 21 March 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. After reviewing the charge sheet and the evidence against her, PEN has concluded that Dareen Tatour has been targeted for peaceful exercise of her right to free expression.

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). 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 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 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. During subsequent hearings in November 2016, 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 and ankle monitor and is now able to leave the house to travel to work, however, she is required to be with a chaperone at all times. The next hearings are due to take place in March and April 2017 during which time witnesses for the defence will be heard, including an expert in translation from Arabic to Hebrew.

For further information on Tatour’s case, see here.

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

- Written on:
November 2, 2015
Jelemeh Prison
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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.


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:


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.

Please let us know about your activities.

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: