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Palestine poet’s Israel legal ordeal finally over after 4 years

Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour (C) [Twitter]

Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour, first arrested in 2015 over a poem published on Facebook, can finally put more than four years of legal struggle behind her, after Israel’s Supreme Court last week rejected the authorities’ petition to restore her overturned conviction for incitement to violence.

As reported by +972 Magazine, the court’s decision brings to an end years of house arrest, months in prison, “and dogged efforts by the government to secure the maximum conviction possible”.

Tatour was arrested in October 2015, against a backdrop of Palestinian protests and a wave of attacks mainly targeting occupation forces and settlers in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.

Following her arrest, Tatour was imprisoned for three months, then released and put under house arrest pending trial, “a wait lasting nearly three years”. During this time, “she was forbidden from using the internet, the phone, or any other means of communication”, +972 Magazine described.

READ: Female Palestine prisoner held in stress positions in Israel jails 

In 2018, an Israeli court convicted Tatour “of incitement to violence and support for terrorism”. She was released on 20 September 2018, after a five-month sentence. Tatour then appealed her conviction in January 2019, winning a reduced sentence.

Tatour’s lawyer, Gaby Lasky, “said that the state’s attempt to appeal a reduced sentence for a poet spoke to its inability to accept the basic democratic principle of freedom of expression”, declaring that “the efforts to taint her poetry as a criminal act were now at an end.”

In its failed appeal, the state argued that the court’s ruling “is likely to transmit the wrong message to extremists who write social media posts that are meant as incitement…under the guise of ‘poet,’ ‘writer,’ ‘journalist,’ ‘singer,’ etc”.

Last Wednesday, the day before the Supreme Court handed down its decision, the Jaffa Theatre held a launch event for the publication of Tatour’s memoir, “My Dangerous Poem”.

“I’ve been released from prison, but prison stays within me, and I feel that I am in a bigger prison,” Tatour said at the launch. “Many places cancelled events at which I was supposed to read poetry.”

Tatour reportedly plans to publish the memoir in English and Hebrew within the next two months.

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