Free Dareen Tatour Site – Detention

20 September 2018 – Dareen is FREE

A small crowd of supporters and the media waited for Dareen in front of the Damoun prison, until she finally walked out of the small blue iron door. Everybody was so happy, hugging and kissing and chatting.

You can see images and read reports about her release in +972HaaretzTeleSUR and PEN International. TeleSUR also published a special video for the occasion.

Activists in Reineh organized an official festive reception for Friday, September 21, at 19:00.

You can watch this video from the celebration, where writer Ofra Yeshua Lyth is handing and reading to Dareen a letter signed by 5000 supporters worldwide through Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).

19 September 2018 – Dareen’s release brought forward to tomorrow

This evening the Tatour family received an unexpected telephone call from the Damoun prison – informing them that Dareen will be released tomorrow morning (Thursday, September 20) around 8:00 am.

5 September 2018 – First family visit in prison – Dareen promised release on September 21

Dareen’s family was allowed to visit her in prison – and we learned that she was promised release on September 21! On Tuesday, September 4, lawyer Amnon from Gaby Lasky’s office visited Dareen Tatour in Damoun prison. He was told that Dareen would not be allowed a visit this week, but maybe the next. So it came as a surprise when, on the morning of the next day, the family’s request for visiting Dareen was approved.

On Wednesday morning, September 5, Dareen’s mother and father travelled to the Damoun prison to meet their daughter for the first time since she was imprisoned on August 8. They found that she was doing well, in spite of the harsh conditions, keeping high morale and writing new poems.

Through these two visits we also learned that the prison authorities informed Dareen that she would be released on Friday, September 21. Dareen was sentenced to 5 months of imprisonment. She spent more than 3 months in prison just after her detention in October 2015. So she had less than 2 months left to complete the 5. Now, due to the general overcrowding in Israeli prisons, almost all prisoners are released a few days or a few weeks before their scheduled release time, in what is called “administrative release”. This should now reduce about two weeks from Dareen’s period and we hope that she will really be released on the promised date (or, better, before it).

Also, on the occasion of the family’s visit, they were allowed for the first time to enter some extra clothes to Dareen, so she will be change clothes.

30 August 2018 – Dareen denied family visits

Since her new imprisonment, on August 8, Dareen’s family is not allowed to visit her. Usually family visits to prisoners are allowed about two weeks after they are imprisoned. From the declarations of the “Israeli Prisons Service” it seems that they intend not to let the family visit Dareen for the two months that she has to spend in prison to complete her 5 months prison sentence.

As another form of abuse, the Israeli Prison Service also prevents the family from entering to Dareen even the most basic clothes that she needs.

Read more about it here (and in Hebrew here).

8 August 2018 – Dareen started prison sentence

On the morning of August 8, two dozen supporters accompanied Dareen to the Jelemeh detention center, where she had to give herself up to spend the last 2 months of the 5 months of imprisonment to which she was finally sentenced. We later learned that Dareen was transferred to the Damoun prison on Mount Carmel (near Haifa) where she is held with Palestinian “security” women prisoners.

Free Dareen Tatour - Detention Jelemeh

Poet Dareen Tatour entering Jelemeh detention center on August 8, 2018

31 July 2018 – As Dareen was sentenced to prison the house arrest was abolished

In the last hearing of the trial, judge Adi Bambiliya-Einstein sentenced Dareen to 5 months in prison plus 6 months of suspended prison sentence. At the same hearing she ordered Dareen to give herself up at the Jelemeh detention center on August 8, at 10:00. For the remaining 8 days until her imprisonment, the judge abolished the house arrest, but left all other restrictions on Dareen in place, including the ban of any access to the internet.

4 December 2017 – The judge refused to release Dareen from house arrest!

Today, December 4, Judge Naaman Idris announced his decision to reject the appeal to end Dareen Tatour’s house arrest. As explained below, Judge Idris heard Dareen’s appeal on November 20. So today he had only to announce his decision. Even though the announcement itself took less than a minute, he let us (ten supporters and family members of Dareen and advocate Haya Abu Warda) wait from 14:00 till 15:30 before he took a small break between his other duties to make the announcement. It was another blow to justice and logic, as there is no date set for the verdict yet, and the trial is expected to last many more months, and those years spent in house arrest are not counted against any possible “punishment”.

The judge agreed to add 3 hours a day to the time that Dareen is allowed to be out of her house. It is now 9am till 10pm (after being set to 9am till 7pm in May 2017). But she still must be accompanied by an authorized supervisor at every step, so she can’t hope to work or lead anything that resembles normal life. All other restricting conditions remain in force, including total ban on connecting the internet. It is also significant for Dareen as an artist that she is not allowed to publish any of her works.

Judge Idris is the same judge that ordered Dareen’s detention “until the end of legal procedures” in December 2015.

Relief of detention conditions as time passes is a regular routine in courts. Most time it is done with the prosecution’s consent. In this specific case the prosecution continues to resist any relief.

The defence team led by lawyer Gaby Lasky is expected to file an appeal in the Nazareth district court soon.

20 November 2017 – hearing to consider abolishing house arrest

Hearing held on Nov 20 to consider request to abolish #DareenTatour house detention…

The Israeli law requires that significant time will pass before you can appeal for another relief in the pre-trial detention conditions. Last time when the conditions were somewhat adjusted (see below), on May 22nd, the judge said that she is pretty confident that the trial will end before the court’s summer vacation.

But time is passing fast and the trial can easily drag for a few more months, to say nothing about a possible appeal. Currently the next hearing in the main trial is set for December 28 for “oral summaries” on top of the written summaries – at the request of the prosecution. There is no date for the verdict yet.

Advocate Gaby Lasky and her team filed a request to take account of the long time that Dareen has already spent under detention and the fact that the evidence that was presented during the trial doesn’t justify in any way the “high dangerousness” that the prosecution attributed to Dareen. They request the abolition of the house detention.

Judge Naaman Idris held a hearing to consider this appeal on Monday, November 20th, at 10:00, in the Nazareth Magistrate Court. The small courtroom was full with Dareen’s supporters. As both sides presented their arguments in writing in advance, there was no much arguing. Advocate Lasky stressed the fact that as Dareen is not allowed to go out of the house without a “supervisor” and not allowed any access to the internet she can’t work or hold any normal life. When the judge asked the prosecutor (not the same Elina Hardak that is responsible on the trial) she simply said that they object to any relief.

The judge postponed his decision to December 4, at 14:00.

11 October 2017 – already 2 years under detention for a poem

While the verdict is going to be postponed, Dareen Tatour “celebrated” on October 11, 2017, the second anniversary of her detention.

The happy news of that day was the publication in ArabLit of another poem by Dareen Tatour, “Rebellion of Silence”, both the original Arabic and an English translation by Andrew Leber. On the same day, also, a group of artists visited Tatour to discuss the production of a play about her trial that may be displayed in the United States.

The restrictions imposed on Dareen are still very severe.

  • She is allowed to get out of the house only between 9am to 7pm. At home and while going out, she should be accompanied at every step by a licensed “supervisor”. Under these conditions she can’t work neither lead any semblance of normal life.
  • She is not allowed any access to the internet, not even reading news. She has never seen this site.
  • She is not allowed to publish anything “directly or through others”.
  • She is not allowed to attend any political gathering.

1 August 2017 – Adding 3 Supervisors

Dareen Tatour’s detention will complete full 2 years on October 11, before the end of the trial.

Since May 22, 2017, she is formally allowed to get out of her house between 9am and 7pm, but only if accompanied by a certified supervisor at any moment. The “justification” for this restriction is that, because Dareen is prevented from any access to the internet, there should be someone to supervise her at any moment.

The result is that she hardly could use this new partial relief. It certainly doesn’t allow her to work or enjoy normal life.

So some of her friends volunteered to join as guardians… but the court requested the prosecution’s response. And the prosecution delayed, and negotiated, and finally refused any new guardians!

After long delays, the appeal was heard in the Nazareth court on August 1. You can read in detail about this hearing here, and, in Hebrew, here. Finally, the three new supervisors were approved.

On August 8, Dareen was visiting friends in Yaffa and went for the first time in two years to see the sea that she was so missing.

22 May 2017 – Allowed to get out, but only accompanied

As the trial is unlikely to finish before September (and might easily drag on, including an appeal, into 2018), Defence lawyers Laski and Ramati appealed for an end to Dareen Tatour’s house detention until the end of the trial. In a hearing on May 22, the prosecution strongly objected to any significant alleviation of the harsh house detention conditions under which Tatour is held since her arrest on October 2015 (after initial 3 months in different prisons).

In the end the judge allowed Tatour to get out of her house each day from 9:00 am till 17:00 pm – but she still have to be accompanied by her supervisors at any step, what means that she will not really be able to get out of the house most of the time. There is no easing of the decision banning Tatour from any access to the internet. And there are new conditions: The family had to deposit another 6000 shekel and Tatour is prevented from attending any political gathering or activity.

Detailed reports in Hebrew about this hearing were published in Free HaifaLocal Call and Ha-Gada Ha-Smalit (the Left Bank).

14 November 2016 – Allowed to work under impossible conditions

As the trial dragged on, lawyers Lasky and Ramati requested that most restriction on Tatour will be removed. The prosecution, as always, strongly objected to any relief.

The detention file was transferred to another judge, Lili Jung-Goffer, who held two hearings to reconsider the detention conditions, on October 31 and November 14.

Finally, she decided to remove the electronic bracelet from Tatour’s ankle, which was a significant improvement in her quality of life.

Tatour’s previous employer, a woman that owns a small beauty salon in Nazareth, agreed to accept her back to work. The judge agreed but on condition of full house detention.  That meant that the employer will be a certified supervisor, and will be obliged to stay with Tatour all the time as the small beauty salon will become another location for her detention.  This proved impractical and soon Tatour was closed for the whole day in her house again.

You can read about these hearings here (and in Hebrew here).

26 July 2016 – Allowed to return home

After the drama of her renewed imprisonment, Tatour was finally allowed to continue her house detention at her home in Reineh.

Just before she went home, the judge decided that it is too dangerous to let her go home (with the supervisors) to wait for the operators of the electric bracelet to connect it, so he ordered the police to keep her in custody until everything will be in place. After some hours waiting for the technicalities to be fixed, the police prisoner-guards decided to return Tatour to the Damoun Prison on Mount Carmel. The reception at the prison refused to accept her, as, according to their computers, she was not a prisoner any more. The policemen wanted to go home, so they just left Tatour, unaccompanied, in the middle of the nowhere, with no phone or money, near the prison gates.

Anyway, there were big celebrations in Reineh that night as Tatour came home after nine months in prison and forced exile.

You can read more about it here.

25 July 2016 – Back to prison

After a prolonged legal struggle to be allowed to continue her house detention at her home in Reineh, Tatour informed Judge Hana Sabagh that she is totally unable to go back to her exile in Kiryat Ono. Even though all the conditions for her transfer home were fulfilled, with only some paper work missing, and even though she already was allowed to spend a night at home on the holiday, he promptly order her arrest and sent her to prison.

13 January till 25 July 2016 – house detention with forced exile in Kiryat Ono

After two appeals by the prosecution to the district court, Dareen was finally transferred to house detention on January 13, but under much more severe conditions. She was declared too dangerous to stay anyway near her home town, so her brother had to rent an apartment in Kiryat Ono, near Tel Aviv, especially to be the site for her detention. She also had to wear an electric bracelet on her ankle 24 hours a day, to supervise her movements any moment. She was completely forbidden to access the internet and the house where she would stay had to be disconnected from the net also.

11 October 2015 till 13 January 2016 – Three months in three prisons

Dareen was interrogated only four times, all about her poems and her Facebook posts. Her interrogation was held by the Nazareth police, not the security services that usually handle “security” cases. On November 2 she was indicted for “incitement” and “support of a terrorist organization”. You can read more details about the indictment in the “trial” page of this site.

With her indictment, the prosecution applied to the court to remand Dareen’s detention until the end of the trial. On November 12 judge Naaman Idris agreed to the remand request but requested a report by the parole officer to check whether the detention can be substituted by house arrest. On December 15 judge Idris ordered the transfer of Dareen to house detention in her home in Reineh, but postponed the actual transfer pending appeal by the prosecution.

During her interrogation Dareen was held in the Jelemeh interrogation center. After her indictment she was transferred to the Women’s Ha-Sharon prison, where she was held with the Palestinian “security” prisoners, between them administrative detainees like Parliament Member from the Palestinian Authority Khaleda Jarar. Later there was not enough room in Ha-Sharon and Dareen was transferred with other Palestinian women prisoners to Damoun prison.

11 October 2015 – Pre-Dawn Arrest

At 3:00am before dawn, on October 11, 2015, patrol cars from Nazareth police, escorted by a unit of Israel’s notorious “Border Guards”, surrounded a quite house in the nearby village of Al-Reineh. They broke in and waked up the terrified family. Their target was Dareen Tatour, 33, a Palestinian poet, photographer and activist. They didn’t have a search order, neither an arrest warrant, but they carried the astonished Dareen with them anyway.

The immediate reason for the detention was a profile picture that Dareen published initially on June 2014, in response to the murder of Palestinian teen Muhammad Abu Khdeir, saying “I’m the next martyr”. It meant to be a protest against the killing of innocent Palestinians, stating that in current conditions any Palestinian can be killed for no reason.

Someone mistranslated the status to Hebrew as if Dareen wrote “I want to be the next martyr”, and the police misinterpreted it as if Dareen announced that she wants to make a suicide attack. After a few hours the interrogators in the Nazareth police understood their initial mistake, but they decided to criminalize Dareen by any means possible.

You can follow the link to read more about Dareen’s detention.

 

Dareen Tatour’s Trial – Toward the Verdict

The trial of Dareen Tatour and the madness of being Israel

(The following article, co-authored by Kim Jensen, was published in Electronic Intifada)

In 1985, Mahmoud Darwish wrote an essay called “The Madness of Being Palestinian.”

After reflecting on the attacks against Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, he concluded that a Palestinian can only do one thing: “to become more Palestinian, a Palestinian until homeland or liberty, a Palestinian until death.”

Dareen family and supporters in court

Dareen Tatour in court with family and friends (Oren Ziv, Activestills)

Thirty years later, when the poet and photographer Dareen Tatour was seized from her home, interrogated, imprisoned and put on trial for “incitement to violence” and “support of a terror organization,” her only crime was just that: becoming more Palestinian in her words and her poems.

On 3 May, a verdict in this hollow charade of a trial is scheduled to be handed down by Adi Bambiliya-Einstein, a judge in the Nazareth magistrates’ court.

Human rights observers and free speech advocates around the world will be watching closely to see if the state of Israel will convict an innocent Palestinian poet against all evidence and in stark violation of international law.

Jennifer Clement, the president of PEN International, who visited Tatour and her family in Reineh – near Nazareth – last October, has reiterated the free expression group’s unwavering position.

“Dareen Tatour has been targeted for her poetry and peaceful activism,” Clement said. “We call for the charges against her to be dropped and for her immediate release.”

Despite such prominent expressions of global and local solidarity that have buoyed Tatour’s spirits, her outlook on the verdict remains bleak. Speaking from the confines of her home where she remains under house arrest, she relayed a pessimistic message: “There is no hope and no justice in the Israeli courts.”

The proceedings of the last few months do not inspire confidence. State prosecutor Alina Hardak’s closing arguments on 18 February, as well as her 43-page summary submitted to the court, demonstrate a disturbing eagerness to pursue a conviction based on emotional manipulation, distortion and slander.

The fact that the judge has countenanced this steady recitation of falsehoods and half-truths for two and a half years does not bode well.

Case built on distortion

The most obvious flaw in the case is the lack of any evidence that Tatour provoked an act of violence or that her work contains “a direct call for violence.”

Instead of presenting proof, Hardak has instead resorted to vilifying Tatour and systematically demonizing three key words she uses in her work: qawemintifada, and shahid.

Though the word qawem – “resist” – implies many forms of struggle, including nonviolent struggle, Hardak has incorrectly maintained that the word constitutes a direct appeal for violent resistance. The prosecutor has also incorrectly claimed that the word intifada, which means a “shaking off” or an “uprising” can only imply violence and terrorism.

While these two misreadings are maddening enough, it is Hardak’s misinterpretation of the word shahid, or “martyr,” that has transformed the lengthy proceedings into a bizarre display of vindictive incompetence.

Within the context of Palestinian literature, culture and politics, the word shahid signifies all of those who have died in the struggle or as a consequence of the occupation, most especially the innocent victims.

Ignoring this incontrovertible fact – as if Google didn’t exist at all – the prosecution has relentlessly promulgated the racist Israeli misconception that the word shahid is a codeword for terrorist or suicide attacker.

This malicious misinterpretation has led the prosecutor to miss the point of “Resist, My People, Resist Them,” Tatour’s fiery anti-occupation poem written in reaction to the extrajudicial execution of the Palestinian student Hadil Hashlamoun and the burning of two Palestinian children, Muhammad Abu Khdeir and Ali Dawabsha.

The line at the center of the indictment – “follow the caravan of martyrs” – functions as a figurative invitation for readers to remain mindful of the victims, not as an explicit invitation to martyrdom.

The twisting of the concept of the martyr is also central to the charge related to the “I am the next martyr” meme that Dareen posted on Facebook after Israeli soldiers and guards shot the young Palestinian Israa Abed in Afula – a city in present-day Israel – during October 2015.

The widely used meme is akin to the popular “Je suis Charlie” or “I can’t breathe” memes expressing solidarity with victims of violence, yet the prosecution ludicrously contends that Tatour posted it to encourage suicide attacks.

Propaganda and delusion

Though Israeli authorities quickly exonerated Israa Abed of any attempt to carry out an attack, police witnesses in Tatour’s hearings repeatedly called Abed “the terrorist who was in Afula” in order to falsely associate Tatour with terrorism.

In her written summary and oral arguments, Hardak, the prosecutor, slanderously insists that at the time of her post Tatour knew that “she [Abed] came to Afula to attack Jews,” even though Tatour in all her interrogations explained that she didn’t believe the false accusations against Abed.

By the end of the hearings, not a single fact was left standing. When the defense team and the international solidarity campaign began to focus on Tatour’s right to freedom of expression, Hardak switched tactics mid-trial and started to deny that the poem “Resist, My People, Resist Them” was even a poem and that Tatour was a poet at all.

In her entire summary, Hardak carefully avoids calling Tatour a poet, or calling the poem cited in full in the indictment a poem, referring to it only as “a text” or “selected words.”

Still maintaining that Tatour was “influential” and that her words had a “real possibility of legitimizing and encouraging acts of violence or terror,” Hardak writes that Tatour was invited “to present” at public events, studiously avoiding the fact she was invited to recite her poetry.

As we review such records of propaganda and delusion, it is clear that the trial of Dareen Tatour is not about madness of being Palestinian, but rather the madness of being Israel. This is the madness of a state that is consistently lenient on convicted Israeli terrorists but that is willing to persecute nonviolent expressions of Palestinian protest.

This is the madness of a state that deploys snipers to target unarmed protesters, and then claims that the snipers are merely defending a “border.”

This is the madness of a state based on the foundational denial of the indigenous people who have made it a central aspect of their identity to resist their own erasure.

No matter what the verdict is on 3 May, we can be sure that the spectacle of intractable insanity will only end when the Palestinian people, who refuse to be obliterated or silenced, will achieve full, equal rights.

For her part, Dareen Tatour is busy writing a book about her ordeal called My Dangerous Poem. Hopefully – if activists around the world exert enough pressure – she will be able to finish, publish and publicize this book as a free woman.

Kim Jensen is a Baltimore-based writer, poet and activist. Her books include a novel, The Woman I Left Behind, and two collections of poems, Bread Alone and The Only Thing that Matters. She is professor of English and women’s studies at the Community College of Baltimore County.

 

Poet Dareen Tatour’s trial: Despite objections – another prosecution summary

(This article first appeared in “+972”. Different Hebrew versions appeared in “Local Call” and “Haifa Ha-Hofshit”).

Like a cartoon character who runs over a cliff but continues to run in the air, or like Achilles who thought he could pass the tortoise easily but each time he got close, the turtle moved a bit further away, so is the trial of Dareen Tatour, a Palestinian poet who has been detained since October 2015 — defying gravity, looking like it will never end.

Dareen Tatour and supporters after trial 18 Feb 2018

Dareen Tatour, Gaby Lasky and supporters after the hearing

After the last witness testified, back in April 2017, Judge Adi Bambiliya-Einstein decided that the parties should submit written summaries within three months. In September, Tatour’s defense attorney, Gaby Lasky, asked to present new evidence, and the issue was brought before the judge on November 15. On that occasion, the judge accepted a request by the prosecutor, attorney Alina Hardak, to supplement the written summaries with oral closing arguments.

After several postponements, a court hearing was scheduled for the additional summaries on Sunday, February 18. In response to Lasky’s request to set the hearing a little late, considering that she must arrive from Tel Aviv to Nazareth, the judge set it to 8:30 am. On Sunday morning, at 8:30, Tatour arrived with her father, the defense attorney and about fifteen of her supporters at the courtroom’s door, which finally opened at 8:45.

The prosecution’s extra show

The prosecution submitted 43 pages of written summaries. The defense managed to shorten its arguments and squeeze them into 83 pages. The initial justification for the extra hearing had been the new evidence.

And yet there was not much new evidence.

The prosecution convinced the court not to accept as evidence a screenshot from Tatour’s Facebook page showing that she initially published the profile picture with the caption “I am the next martyr” in July 2014, as a response to the murder of the teen Muhammad Abu Khdeir. It was rejected on technical grounds — the absence of a witness corroborating the authenticity of the image.

The second piece of new evidence related to the publication of a video accompanied by the lyrics of Tatour’s poem, “Resist My People.” The defense brought evidence that the same video was later posted by Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev on her own Facebook page. That no legal steps have been taken against Regev, the defense argued, constitutes proof of discriminatory prosecution. The arguments on this matter lasted less than a minute, out of an hour and a quarter of the prosecution’s closing arguments.

On the other hand, the prosecutor used the event to repeat that which she had already detailed at length in the written summaries. She tried to present the poem, “Resist My People,” as part of the wave of attacks by Palestinians in October 2015.

The defense insisted that the poem is a legitimate expression of protest, which speaks about the occupation’s violence against innocent Palestinians. The defense based its arguments on specific events that were mentioned in the poem: the children who were burned; Hadeel, who was shot; the settler’s robbery; and the violence of the army’s special undercover units.

The prosecutor focused on what she thought was clear to every “average person”—the Israeli worldview that sees every Arab, and especially whoever opposes the occupation, as a dangerous terrorist. During the trial the prosecution screened gory videos of Palestinian attacks, under the pretext of checking the skill and objectivity of the defense’s translator. This time, to refresh the judge’s memory, the prosecutor began to read aloud in court a list of attacks by Palestinians that took place in October 2015. Defense Attorney Gaby Lasky objected, which the judge accepted — a rare occasion in this court.

According to the prosecution, the publication of the photo “I am the next Martyr” was part of a systematic pattern of encouraging suicide attacks. The fact that the picture was first published in response to the burning of young Abu Khdeir, of course, should have been conclusive proof that Tatour speaks of the martyr in the sense of a victim rather than an attacker. However, as mentioned, the prosecutor managed to have that evidence stricken. Now she wanted “to prove” that this image was first published in October 2015.  During the trial, the prosecution claimed (and Tatour consistently denied) that this picture first appeared next to the picture of Israa Abed, who was shot at the central bus station in Afula on October 9, 2015, after she was wrongfully suspected of intending to carry out an attack. The prosecution used this false claim as proof that it couldn’t have been published by Tatour earlier. On the basis of this circular argument, the prosecutor even dramatically declared that Tatour was “lying brazenly,” which led to another objection by Lasky.

A whole section of the defense summaries focused on the importance of preserving freedom of expression, especially political and artistic expression. On top of many legal precedents, the defense also quoted international conventions to which Israel is a signatory. One of the cited documents was a joint declaration of 57 countries issued in September 2015, before the 30th session of the UN Human Rights Council, which relates to the freedom of artistic expression. The prosecutor claimed that this declaration is not legally binding and that, in fact, Israel’s support of it has no practical value. She even said that this was the position of the State Attorney’s Office Department of International Law. Lasky requested to see this legal opinion. It may be time that Israel’s partners to this statement also begin asking questions.

Was the prosecution authorized to file the indictment?

The indictment accuses Tatour of two crimes: incitement to violence and support for a terrorist organization. These two articles, by nature, restrict freedom of expression, and therefore such indictments require the approval of the attorney general. In practice, the prosecution only submitted to the court approval from the attorney general for prosecuting Tatour for “incitement to violence.”

It is worth noting that the excessive sensitivity to freedom of expression in Israel’s legal system is applied mainly to the freedom of expression of settlers and other anti-Arab extremists. Therefore, in cases of this type, the defense often quotes cases of right-wing activists who were acquitted despite serious violent statements. The judges, for some reason, have no difficulty telling the difference; when the accused is Arab, they use entirely different criteria.

Lasky argued in her written summaries that in the absence of the required authorization, the part of the indictment that deals with support for a terrorist organization should be considered null and void. She cited precedents of indictments that were dismissed due to lack of such authorization, and showed that such decisions can be made even in the late stages of a trial.

In response to these claims, the prosecutor drew a rabbit from her hat. She presented to the judge a letter which, she claimed, proved that a deputy state attorney approved indicting Tatour for supporting a terrorist organization. Lasky was furious at how the prosecutor suddenly presented a document that had not been submitted to the defense as part of the investigation materials. The prosecutor explained that this was an internal correspondence with the State Attorney’s Office that was not part of the investigation materials. The judge gave Lasky the letter so she could look at it, but the prosecutor snatched it from her hands, claiming Lasky was not allowed to see it.

For a few minutes, a dramatic struggle took place between the prosecutor and the defense attorney, partly as a shouting match and partly by dictating arguments for the court’s records.

Lasky argued that the accused could not be convicted on the basis of materials she had not been allowed to see. The prosecutor gradually withdrew, saying she was ready for Lasky to see the letter but not photograph it. The judge made it clear that if the letter was indeed attached to the case, it would be scanned and accessible for the defense. The prosecutor sought to consult with her superiors, and argued that the entire issue of the necessary approval is an internal procedure that does not oblige her to present approval to the court, and that the court should be satisfied with her declaration that the indictment was submitted with the necessary authority.

Finally, the same letter was presented again to the judge. It was clear that it was not actually an authorization by the attorney general. The judge announced that it would also be given to the defense, which would probably refer to it in her response to the prosecution’s summaries.

Five minutes

Dareen Tatour and supporters waiting for trial 18 Feb 2018

At 8:30 Dareen, Lasky and 15 supporters were already waiting at the court’s door

The hearing was supposed to last an hour and a half. Starting 15 minutes late, after an hour and a quarter of the prosecutor’s summaries, it was already 10 o’clock. Some litigants that were scheduled to appear before the same judge were already waiting in the courtroom. The judge told Lasky: “You have five minutes to summarize.” I still wonder whether she meant this seriously or in jest.

Lasky used the few minutes she had to object to the whole procedure of the supplementary summaries. She reviewed the sequence of events, how it was decided that the summaries would be delivered in writing, followed by the verdict, with no room for further summaries. The nature of the criminal proceeding, she said, citing from legal textbooks, is such that the prosecutor summarizes first, then the defendant is given the right to the last word. There was justification for supplementary summaries because of the additional evidence, but that is not what happened. Lasky demanded to cancel the entire procedure.

In the event that this request is rejected, Lasky explained that she cannot respond without preparation and examination of the prosecution’s new claims, which include references to different court rulings and minutes of Knesset deliberations designated to clarify the legislator’s intention. She said she would prefer to submit a written response.

The judge and the audience

This prolonged and absurd trial always leads to new surprises.

At a certain stage, during the stormy debate over the submission of the letter ostensibly proving that the indictment had been approved, journalist Ofra Yeshua-Lyth, who was sitting next to Tatour, remarked out loud: “Write it down, it was not recorded in the protocol.”

The judge stopped the hearing and asked: “Who said that?”

There was silence in the courtroom and then Ofra said “I”, already prepared to be thrown out of the hall for disturbing the hearing.

However, in lieu of the expected scolding, the judge told Ofra that she should not worry and that the trial was conducted with great fairness.

Since discussion between the judge and the public had been legitimized, Ofra added that she had examined the minutes of the trial and that not everything that was said in the courtroom was recorded.

The judge patiently explained her policy regarding writing the protocol: She explained that there was a heated debate between the prosecution and the defense, and that only what was of legal value was recorded. When some of the audience repeatedly argued that important things were not recorded, the judge replied that if something important was missing in the protocol, the defense could file an official request for its amendment.

Toward the end of the hearing, another activist, Bilha Golan, remarked: “this is a political trial”. In response the judge resumed the rare dialogue with the public. It was, in essence, a lecture by the judge – not to be mentioned in the protocol, of course – designed to prove that this was a fair process whose sole purpose was to enable her to judge objectively, according to the facts presented to her.

“Everyone is here to examine the truth”, the judge claimed. She explained patiently – again – and even said she was talking to us as she sometimes spoke to her children. She even claimed that we were hurting Tatour. According to her, by our one-sided approach, we made Tatour feel that the process was unfair and that she had been wronged!

Activist Hana Safran took the opportunity to remind the judge that while the trial was being held, Tatour’s life had been put on hold for more than two years. Even if she is eventually acquitted, she has suffered greatly – and no one can undo that suffering. The judge replied that the matter of house arrest was not her responsibility, but was rather determined in another proceeding by different judges. The audience remarked that in both processes there is the same prosecutor, but the judge replied that the prosecutor did not rule. She said that anyone who wants Tatour to be released should apply for it in the parallel procedure. Perhaps this judge is unaware that judge Idris, who is responsible for Tatour’s detention, rejected the latest request to revoke her house arrest — without even scheduling a hearing.

What next?

As expected, the judge rejected the defense’s objection to the proceedings.

She told Lasky to choose between summarizing on the spot, and promised that she would stay until the middle of the night to hear her arguments, and presenting written summaries. In the end, she gave Lasky seven days to submit a written response.

Only after receiving these summaries will the judge set a date for announcing the verdict. Until it is given, Dareen Tatour will have lost more than two and a half years of her life to prison and house arrest.

 

Israeli court refuses (again) to release poet Dareen Tatour

(The following report was published in +972. It was initially published in Hebrew in “Local Call” and Haifa Ha-Hofshit. All photos courtesy of Oren Ziv of Activestills.org.)

The media calm in recent months could have fooled the casual reader into thinking that the trial of Dareen Tatour for her poetry has already ended. After all, how much can the state abuse the poet for one poem and two statuses on Facebook?

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Dareen Tatour in court, Nov 20, 2017

The silence is misleading. More than two years and two months after her arrest in October 2015, Tatour’s trial drags on languidly in the Nazareth court with no end in sight. On Monday, December 4, the remand judge once again rejected her request to be released from the house arrest imposed on her “until the end of legal proceedings.”

New testimony regarding “The Next Martyr”

Tatour, 35, from Reineh near Nazareth, was arrested by Israeli police on October 11th, 2015, and later indicted of incitement to violence and support of a terrorist organization, all for publishing a poem, “Resist my people, resist them”, and two Facebook statuses. The prosecution claimed that her publications at the beginning of October 2015 should be read in the context of the Palestinian “third intifada”, which

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Dareen Tatour prepared a handmade gift to her lawyers, Gaby Lasky (left) and Haya Abu-Wardeh (right)

was characterized by attacks by unorganized individuals. Tatour replied that in all her publication there is no call for violence, to which she objects, and that they express legitimate protest and call for struggle against Israeli restrictions on the right of Muslims to pray in Al-Aqsa and against the crimes of the occupation and in particular the killing of innocent Palestinians. She also claimed, and brought experts to prove this claim, that the police both mistranslated and misinterpreted her poem.

Following her arrest, Tatour was jailed for three months in three different prisons. She was later released to strict house arrest, forced to wear an ankle monitor. As the authorities demanded that she will be distanced from the Nazareth region, her family had to rent an apartment in Kiryat Ono, just outside Tel Aviv, to hold her there. She was forbidden from using the Internet.

Gradually, through many appeals and legal battles, which met stiff resistance from the prosecution, the conditions of the house arrest were somewhat eased. In July 2016 she was allowed to continue her house arrest at her home, and in November of that year the ankle was removed. Gradually she was allowed to get out of the house for limited hours, but she should be accompanied by custodians at every step.

The last witness in the case was heard on April 27, and the judge gave each of the parties 45 days to submit written summaries. The prosecution requested a postponement and finally submitted its summaries at the end of June.

While working on the defense summaries, the team from Attorney Gabi Lasky’s office came upon an important piece of evidence concerning one of the main points of the indictment, the publication of a profile picture with the text “I’m the next martyr” (the word was written in its masculine form, “shaheed”, in Arabic). In fact, as we learned from the testimonies of the police officers during the trial, the

I am the next martyr

“I’m the next martyr” – the profile picture that started the whole affair. It is designed as an obituary. Facebook shows the publication date – July 2014. The court refused to accept this evidence.

publication of this picture was the immediate trigger for the night raid on the poet’s home and her “military style” detention. Dumb “police intelligence” interpreted this status as a declaration of her intention to carry out an attack. Only after the arrest did officers search through Tatour’s Facebook and found the other publications that are mentioned in the indictment.

Tatour explained during both her police interrogations and testimony in court that she, along with many others, shared this profile picture to protest the killing of innocent Palestinians. It was published, for example, after the burning alive of Muhammad Abu Khdeir in Jerusalem in July 2014, and as a response to the police killing of Kheir Hamdan in Kafr Kana (just near Reineh) in November of that year.

The prosecutor claimed in her summaries that Tatour had lied about the publication date of this picture. As evidence she mentioned that it was found on Tatour’s phone as a file dated just prior to her detention. The police computer expert was asked during cross-examination whether he had checked when Tatour first published the picture. He said he did not know whether there was any way to check it.

The defense found the picture on Tatour’s Facebook page, and Facebook itself clearly shows the date of its first publication in July 2014, as she originally claimed. Moreover, the publication of the picture in the context of protests against Abu Khdeir’s murder also shows the context in which Tatour uses the word shaheed as a “martyr” or “victim” of Israeli violence, rather than as an attacker, a subject that has been at the center of much of the trial.

Evidence of discriminatory enforcement

From the beginning of the trial, the defense argued that Tatour’s arrest and trial constituted discriminatory enforcement, while others who had published far more “offensive” material were neither investigated nor tried. In particular, the defense argued that the attitude of the police and the prosecution is biased against the Arab public. However, the prevailing atmosphere in Israeli courts, which view every Arab protesting against the regime as a security risk, makes this claim difficult to prove. It can always be argued that every publication has special circumstances that are taken into account.

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Tatour and supporters after the court hearing on December 4, 2017

In an unexpected coincidence, the defense found a golden opportunity to strengthen its argument when Israel’s Culture Minister, Miri Regev, published the exact same video on her Facebook page for which Tatour was indicted, in which she reads “Resist My People, Resist Them.” The minister did so in response to the screening of the video as part of reading Tatour’s trial protocols during solidarity event in Jaffa last August. This is no longer a comparison between various publications, since both Regev and Tatour published the very same video. The rough Hebrew translation added by the minister, as well as the new title of the video (“where do you think this video was screened?”) cannot change the “severity” of the publication, had it really been an offense in the first place.

Another important detail is the scope of audience reached by the video. The indictment states that up to a few days after Tatour’s detention, her video was viewed 153 times (according to YouTube’s count, which includes some views by the interrogators themselves). In her summary, the prosecutor speaks of the “enormous potential for exposure” of Tatour publications on the Internet. On the other hand, the same video had tens of thousands of views on Regev’s Facebook page. Surprisingly, the minister was neither arrested nor interrogated, and apparently was not even requested to remove the dangerous video.

Evidence rejected and evidence accepted

Attorney Lasky submitted a request to the court to add the two new pieces of evidence to the case. It should have been a simple technical procedure.

However, in this specific case, the prosecution is conducting a war of attrition on every detail. After lengthy negotiations, an additional hearing of the trial was scheduled for November 15 to discuss the admissibility of the new evidence. In this hearing, the prosecutor demanded that whoever took the screenshot from Tatour’s Facebook page be cross-examined as a condition for its submission. This meant allowing the prosecutor to interrogate either Tatour herself or her attorney, Haya Abu Warda. Finally, the defense team decided not to agree to such an interrogation, which could have opened the door for the prosecutor to raise additional issues, giving up the opportunity to submit the new evidence.

Regarding the video from Regev’s Facebook page, however, the prosecution took a different line. It agreed to submit the video as evidence if the prosecution would also be allowed to submit other videos from Regev’s Facebook page in which she rails against Tatour and those in solidarity with her. For some reason, it was suddenly possible to submit videos from Facebook without the need to interrogate witnesses. Apparently the prosecutor was convinced that Regev’s incitement against Tatour would affect the judge more than the legal argument of discriminatory enforcement.

Oral summaries after written summaries

The prosecutor used the presentation of the additional evidence for yet another procedural victory. When the testimonies stage came to an end, the prosecutor requested to move to oral summaries, while the defense insisted on its right to submit written summaries. When the judge accepted the defense’s request, the prosecutor requested the opportunity to respond to the defense summaries. She explained that during verbal summaries, she could interrupt the defense’s statement, which would not be possible during written summaries. The judge ignored this unusual request.

Now, because of the additional evidence, the judge has scheduled a round of oral summaries to be heard on December 28, after the written summaries are submitted.

Legal struggle over the house arrest

By now it has been over two years and two months since Tatour’s arrest. Even when she is allowed to leave her house during the day, she must be accompanied at all times by a court-authorized custodian. Under such conditions it is clear that she cannot work or live a normal life.

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Full courtroom – November 20, 2017

In most cases, the conditions of detention are relieved with the passage of time with the consent of the prosecution. But in Tatour’s case, the prosecution continues to stress the poet’s supposed dangerousness and opposes any relief. In view of the prolonged trial with no clear end date, Lasky filed an application to cancel Tatour’s house arrest. The request was heard on November 20 before Judge Naaman Idris, the same judge who, two years ago, ordered Tatour’s detention until the end of legal proceedings. The hall was full of friends who came to support the poet, hoping that the show of support would encourage the judge rethink the case. The prosecutor repeated her objection to granting Tatour any relief without even bothering to explain.

The judge delayed his judgment to December 4. When we arrived at the appointed time, about ten friends and family, the judge allowed us “dry” in his room for about an hour and a half while he was handling many other cases. Finally, he was kind enough to make a short statement, which required less than a minute, announcing that he had rejected the request to cancel the detention. The judgment itself was already written before the hearing. In order to show that he does not ignore the lengthening of the detention for such a long period of time, he extended the period during which Tatour is allowed to leave the house, to between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m., but  she still must be accompanied by a custodian, which means that the relief is only symbolic.

You may read details about all the hearings in Dareen Tatour’s trial and follow the latest updates in http://FreeDareenTatour.org/trial