, , , , , , , ,

Letter to supporters of detained poet Dareen Tatour

Dear Friends,


Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour is still under house detention as her trial is expected to continue for a log period…

We need more solidarity and pressure in the near future

I write this letter to put you all on the same page.


Dareen Tatour: Freedom of expression for everybody – Image from Haaretz by Rami Shlush

The last court session was held on Sunday, May 8. There was one witness for the prosecution – a policeman – Salman Amer – the one that got the material from Dareen’s computer and smartphone.  Before the hearing we held a successful vigil outside the court. Probably the judge was pressed from the multitude of Dareen’s supporters – so she decided to hold the hearing behind closed doors.

You can read about the 8/5 vigil and hearing my reports (Hebrew and English) , a report by Jack Khouri in Haaretz (Hebrew and English)  and a later report in “Local Call” (in Hebrew only) with more details from the courts protocol and about solidarity activities.

The court set a new schedule: the next hearing will be held only in 17/7 – and there are 5 more witnesses for the prosecution. Another hearing was scheduled for September 6 – so the defense case will not start until that date and is unlikely to end then. By that schedule Dareen is expected to stay in her detention and exile for more than a year even before the case will be decided…

This schedule forces us to concentrate now on an effort to, at least, “improve” the harsh conditions imposed on Dareen. Her lawyer, Abed Fahoum, promised that a special request to the court to bring back Dareen to Reineh – even if under house detention – will be placed with the Nazareth court early next week. When we get a date for the hearing I will publish it on the Free Dareen Tatour Facebook Page. But the best chance to get some relief for Dareen is in case that there will be concrete pressure on the prosecution – mostly by international public opinion and human rights organization.

I also wanted to mention that Dareen’s brother and his fiancée, which were appointed by the court to “guard” Dareen at her exile/detention in Tel Aviv, were forced to hire a special apartment for this purpose and had to stop their studies (both were post-graduate students of medical professions) and adjust their work schedule – with huge costs and disruption to their personal lives. Dareen is even more concerned to relieve them than to go back to her home.

Publicity and Solidarity

Dareen’s case received huge publicity in the Palestinian press – she became a symbol for hundreds of Palestinians that are arrested and persecuted for expressing their views on social media. Her case was prominently mentioned by Muhammad Barake, the head of the “Arab follow up committee”, in front of thousands of protesters in the “March of Return”, the commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba that was held this year in Wadi Al-Zubale, in Bir A-Sabe’ (Naqab) region, on May 12.

The general association of Palestinian writers issued a special declaration (in Arabic, May 15) in solidarity with Dareen, calling for her immediate release. The declaration calls for “solidarity action and the mobilization of all possible energies to pressure the occupation machine and force it to release the poet”. Sami Muhana, head of the association of Palestinian Arab writers in the 48 territories, also issued a denunciation in behalf of this association. Herak Haifa held a special poetry reading event on May 5, in solidarity with Dareen Tatour, with the participation of five young Palestinian poets.

In the Israeli press we succeeded to get about as far as one can go with a comprehensive article by Gideon Levy and Alex Levac in Haaretz (in Hebrew and English). But till now, in spite of repeated efforts, no Israeli writer, nor any Israeli Human Rights organization, showed any interest in this case. Please correct me if I missed something – I will be more than happy to publish any expression of solidarity from any side.

The “ArabLit” site, which writes (in English) about Arab literature, made great work in translating some of Dareen’s poems, including the one she was arrested for – “Resist, My People, Resist Them” – as well as “How Old I Am?” and “I will not leave my country”.

Activists of “Jewish Voice for Peace” held special protest in solidarity with Dareen in front of the Israeli consulates in New York and Philadelphia before the court hearing on May 8.

Pen International, in a declaration from April 25, condemning the arrest of Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal, related to Dareen’s case, saying: “PEN International is also concerned at reports that Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour is currently on trial for alleged ‘incitement to violence’.  The organization is currently assessing the content of a poem and Facebook posts the poet, who is from Nazareth in Israel, wrote which are the basis of the charge.”

Sarah Shulman, and American novelist and academic, sent the following message of solidarity: “I am honored to offer open-hearted solidarity to the Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour and hope others will join me in supporting her quest for freedom to live and write according to her conscience.”

It is time that more poets, writers and all freedom loving people will make their voice heard for the freedom of Dareen Tatour, for freedom of the arts and freedom of expression, for the freedom of the Palestinian people and all the people in this small world.