After more than three months in jail and more than six months in house arrest on exile near Tel Aviv, after her unexpected detention yesterday (Monday, July 25, 2016), poet Dareen Tatour was allowed today to return to Reineh, still under house arrest and the same harsh conditions.
But it was only at about 20:30 that Tawfiq, Dareen’s father, collected her from the street near Damoun prison on Mount Carmel. It was another crazy day showing how the whole judiciary, police, prosecution and the prison department are doing everything to make life unbearable for the Palestinians (and many other ordinary residents).
Yesterday judge Hana Sabagh, at the Nazareth low court, decided to send Dareen to prison, in spite of the agreement by the prosecution to let her go back to Reineh, just because the private company that is responsible to the electronic surveillance didn’t yet submit a written report. The hearing today was set to 13:00, and the defense lawyers, Juana Far, had the missing paper ready with her, so we expected a smooth sail.
This time we were not waiting with Dareen, as she was held in a prison cell in the basement of the building, after spending the night in Jelemeh detention center. At about 14:00 she was brought to the isolated deck in the court room, carefully watched by two guards, a man and a woman.
As the judge started the hearing, noting the agreement between the prosecution and the defense, the prosecution lawyer requested to speak. At the last moment she tried to tighten Dareen’s detention restrictions. Some three month ago, the court allowed Dareen a small “window” in her house arrest: On Thursday, Friday and Saturday every week she is allowed to get out of the house, still accompanied by one of her supervisors, for two hours (from 17:00 till 19:00). This is less than the time that regular prisoners are allowed to go to stretch their body in the prison yard. Now the prosecution wanted to abolish this small window as a price for their agreement to Dareen’s return to Reineh. Luckily the judge frowned at this new complication and made it clear that the conditions stay as they are.
But just as we expected the judge to order the release of Dareen and that we will be allowed to go together out of court, he found a new way to torture us. Even that the only reason for Dareen’s arrest yesterday was the missing paper, he ordered now that Dareen will be taken back to prison until the surveillance company will complete all the technical arrangement.
We started a craze race against time to get all the paper work done. They wouldn’t give you the necessary forms in court to fill, so the lawyer had to go back to her office to find the right forms and come back to the court house to let Dareen sign them in her prison cell.
After the first bunch of papers was ready, the company asked for another couple of forms to be filled. It was already 15:40 and the gourds, officers of the “Nakhshon” prisoners’ transfer unit, said that if we can get all the papers right until 16:00 or 16:30 we may get Dareen with us from the court. Otherwise they will return her back to prison.
So lawyer Juana hurried back to her office. But the surveillance company insisted that the forms should be sent to them from the court’s fax and not from the lawyer’s office. In spite of the strike we found some nice clerk in the court’s office that agreed to get the faxes from Juana and send them to the company. It was exactly 16:30 when we receive the fax delivery confirmation from the court’s office. We warmly thanked the clerk, wished her victory in the strike and run down to “minus 3” were the prisoners are held.
The guards were still there holding Dareen, but the surveillance company said they didn’t get the fax yet. We called the lawyers and requested them to call the company and see what the hell is going on with them. At about 17:00 the people at the company admitted that they received the fax, but said that they want somebody from the court’s office to call them to make sure that it was really sent from the court. We run back to the court’s office but there was nobody there. In the meantime it became clear that the guards are also gone with Dareen – the brave ones simply spirited away without telling us, leaving us waiting at the door and ringing the bell in vain.
The next chapter is what I heard from Dareen after she was released.
She was taken by the guards. Initially they said that they will take her to “Ha-Sharon” prison, near Kfar Saba, some 90 kilometers away. Then, for unknown reason, they changed their mind and decided to take her to Damoun, the last prison where she spent time in her three month imprisonment.
The “Nakhshonim” tried to submit her to the prison officers, but those checked in their computers and found that Dareen was released and refused to accept here. Hearing that, the Nakhshonim decided that they have already lost too much time on this lost cause and just drove away, leaving Dareen there, standing at the gates of the Damoun prison – an unwanted prisoner.
The prison officers let Dareen make a telephone call (her telephone was taken from her when she was arrested). Luckily she remembered the number of her brother, who called her father. For a long time she just stood there, near the mountain road, waiting for her father to come and take her home.
At night, when they finally reached the family house in Reineh, there were happy celebrations with many people coming to congratulate Dareen on her return home after an ordeal that lasted more than nine months. There were fireworks, food and oriental sweets.
There was also music – it came out the Dareen is learning also to play the guitar – in addition to her love for poetry and photography. Holding her guitar she told us how the policemen that came to arrest her on October and confiscated her computer and smartphone asked about the guitar: Is it yours also? She replied: Will you take my guitar also?
As we left the house at half past midnight, the whole family was expecting a white night. The people from the surveillance company said they will come at around 02:00 to install the equipment. Despite judge Sabagh’s tireless effort, Dareen was left for many hours without active surveillance. And this time, in spite of all his efforts, he failed even to ruin our day.
Even as Dareen was celebrating her home-coming, we talked about the next phase of the trial. If found “guilty” – which is what happens with about 99% of the people indicted in Israeli courts – she is expected to serve another prolonged period in prison. The struggle to #Free_Dareen_Tatour, like the bigger struggle for Palestinian human rights, has still a long way to go.