Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Palestinian poet sentenced to five months prison


By Myriam Purtscher - August 02, 2018
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Freedom of Speech ] [prisoners] [Israeli Justice System]

Palestinian poet and writer Dareen Tatour was sentenced on Tuesday to five months prison for posting a poem to social media which the Israeli courts said 'incited terrorism’.

The 36-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel was first arrested after her home was raided in October 2015.
 
A few days after she posted a Youtube video of herself reading her poem titled, “Resist, my people, resist them” as the soundtrack to pictures of violent Israeli confrontations with Palestinians to her Facebook page.
 
Tatour subsequently spent nearly three years under house arrest with no access to the internet after prosecutors said her video was a call to violence.
 
Tatours lawyer, Gaby Lasky told Middle East Eye the poem had been misinterpreted by Israeli translators who believed it was a call to violence instead of 'artistic expression’ which Tatour had intended.
 
“The verdict violates the right of speech and freedom of expression. It is an infringement on cultural rights of the Palestinian minority inside Israel. It would lead to self-censorship and self-criminalisation of poetry," Lasky told Middle East Eye.
 
Lasky also said in an interview with Al Jazeera they will be appealing the sentence.
 
"I don't think that writing a poem, even if it's against the government is a crime," Lasky said.
 
"It's regretful that in a country that believes in a democracy, will sentence to jail a poet because of a poem that she wrote. The prosecution wanted to send her to jail between 15 and 26 months [but] the judge decided to send her for five months which is still a long time in prison."
 
The Israeli court also charged Tatour with supporting the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine - deemed a terrorist organisation by most western countries.  
 
The prosecutors indictment includes the following lines from Tatour’s poem which the court ruled expressed her support for the groups call for an uprising.
 
"I will not succumb to the 'peaceful solution'
Never lower my flags
Until I evict them from my land."
 
Following her conviction in May, Tatour told Haaretz her trial had exposed the unjust nature of Israeli prosecutions toward Arabs.
 
"The whole world will hear my story. The whole world will hear what Israel's democracy is. A democracy for Jews only. Only Arabs go to jail. The court said I am convicted of terrorism. If that's my terrorism, I give the world a terrorism of love," Tatour said.
 
Over 150 American literary figures, including nine Pulitzer prize winners have called for the release of Tatour.
 
“We, the undersigned – writers, artists, and people of conscience from around the world – believe that poetry is not a crime. We are calling for poet and activist Dareen Tatour to be released immediately from house arrest and for all charges to be dropped,” they said in a statement.
 
In a video message Tatour posted to social media before her sentencing she described she had already suffered throughout her three years house arrest but will continue to write.
 
“I don't believe there is justice in Israel and I will keep writing poetry with the language I want and with the words I choose to write. I will not accept any law to tell me what to write and which words to pick up.”
 

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