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Posts tagged ‘Pussy Riot’

Pussy Riot World Map

Dear Gabriel,

We’re honestly not sure how the Russian authorities are going to react to our Pussy Riot World Map.

The Russian authorities recently banned Pussy Riot’s videos as “extremist”. And last August, the Russian Embassy in Washington tossed Amnesty’s petitions to the curb – literally – and refused to hear our concerns about human rights in Russia.

W1303EAIAR1But on March 4, the one-year anniversary of Pussy Riot’s arrest, we will not be silent. Two Pussy Riot members, Maria “Masha” Alyokhina and Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova, remain behind bars in notoriously brutal prison camps. Last Wednesday we danced outside the Russian Embassy to commemorate Pussy Riot’s performance – now we’re heading back with our map of Pussy Riot’s supporters around the globe.

We only have a few more days left to add as many names as possible to our map. Stand for Pussy Riot and free speech in Russia — get on the map!

It’s been a whirlwind year since Pussy Riot’s iconic “punk prayer” performance at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow. Arrests, courtrooms, lawyers, political posturing by the Russian authorities and President Putin — all culminating in Masha and Nadya’s outlandishly harsh two-year sentences, at prison camps far from their families and young children.

But the women of Pussy Riot were never alone. From Twitter to rock shows to handwritten letters, hundreds of thousands have called on the Russian authorities to #FreePussyRiot. More than 100 of Russia’s best-known actors, directors and musicians signed a letter calling for their release. Madonna played a Moscow concert with “Pussy Riot” emblazoned across her back. Amnesty activists threw a full-fledged punk concert steps from the Russian Embassy in Washington DC. Star musicians like Sting and Anti-Flag added their names to our Pussy Riot world map in solidarity — along with thousands of other activists like you.

One year later, Pussy Riot needs us to speak out — more than ever. Why now? Because Pussy Riot continues to be a symbol of the Russian authorities’ unreasonable crackdown on freedom of expression in Russia — and the attacks on free speech in Russia are only getting worse with some disturbing new laws.

Did you know that:

Conducting public protests in Russia could cost you up to U.S. $32,000 in fines?

Human rights and political activism could potentially be treated as “treason” in Russia, thanks to a broad new legal definition?

Foreign and domestic NGOs — including those doing vital human rights work — face increasingly severe restrictions on their operations in Russia?

Pussy Riot’s harsh prison sentences are a draconian response to peaceful dissent.

“This is cruelty on purpose, cruelty for propaganda purposes,” said Ekaterina Samutsevich, a member of Pussy Riot who was arrested with Nadya and Masha but later conditionally released on appeal. “…We need to fight it somehow.”

And fight it we will! We will never give up our campaign to defend human rights and free speech in Russia.

On Monday, we’ll be headed to the Russian Embassy, map in hand.

Stand for free speech and be on that map.

Free Pussy Riot!

Thank You,

Jasmine Heiss
Campaigner, Individuals and Communities at Risk
Amnesty International USA

Suu Kyi In D.C.

Dear Gabriel,

I wish you could have been with me when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese opposition leader and former prisoner of conscience in Myanmar, electrified the Amnesty Rights Generation Town Hall this morning at Washington DC’s Newseum.

Today’s heart-stopping moments are too many to recount – here is a small sample:

Aung San Suu Kyi spoke with unflagging conviction and courage, filling me with pride for the role Amnesty supporters like you played in securing her release and sustaining her spirits over the last 23 years.
Alex Wagner, our moderator from MSNBC, recalled how as a child visiting family in Burma she drove by Daw Suu’s compound with a feeling of fear, admiration, and yearning.

The entire audience proclaimed ourselves “all Aung San Suu Kyi” and held up a mask with her picture on it; the next moment we each turned our mask over to reveal the faces of other prisoners of conscience who remain behind bars.

Indeed, it’s been a long road, yet our journey is not over. Strengthen our work – donate to Amnesty International.

Aung San Suu Kyi is free, but prisoners of conscience around the world are denied their basic freedoms. We take up their cases with equal vigor. It is what makes Amnesty unique, and necessary.

The reason Aung San Suu Kyi made time during her visit to the United States to join our Town Hall was precisely because she wanted to inspire legions of activists to work on behalf of other prisoners the way they worked for her.

As Amnesty supporters, you and I have the power to change the course of history, to right great wrongs.

Realize that power with me today – make a gift today and your impact will be doubled.

I’ve set a bold goal of inspiring 50,000 gifts this month during our annual Membership Drive. Thanks to a generous donor, we can match every dollar of your donation made before Sept. 30.

Political repression comes in many forms. Take the case of feminist Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot, so poignantly represented at today’s Town Hall meeting.

Last month, three members of Pussy Riot were convicted of “hooliganism on grounds of religious hatred” for playing a protest song in a cathedral. They are headed to a prison camp for two years.

Today, Pyotr and Gera Verzilov, the husband and 4-year old daughter of present-day prisoner of conscience Nadja Tolokonnikova from Pussy Riot, presented Daw Suu with a bouquet of flowers, as a torch passed from one generation of prisoners of conscience to the next.

Like Daw Suu’s imprisonment, the Pussy Riot conviction is a bitter blow to free speech. It reminds us never to take for granted the hard-fought human rights we have secured.

As long as people like the women of Pussy Riot are behind bars, we know what we must do. We must join and act for the greater good.

But Amnesty doesn’t work without you, so please, do your part to keep this movement strong – make a contribution to Amnesty International today.

In Solidarity,

Suzanne Nossel
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

Pussy Riot Is Free

Dear Gabriel,

Facing 2 years in jail for singing a song criticizing President Putin in a church, a member of Pussy Riot gestured to the court and said in her show-trial’s closing statements, “Despite the fact that we are physically here, we are freer than everyone sitting across from us … We can say anything we want…”

Russia is steadily slipping into the grip of a new autocracy — clamping down on public protest, allegedly rigging elections, intimidating media, banning gay rights parades for 100 years, and even beating critics like chess master Garry Kasparov. But many Russian citizens remain defiant, and Pussy Riot’s eloquent bravery has galvanized the world’s solidarity. Now, our best chance to prove to Putin there is a price to pay for this repression lies with Europe.

The European Parliament is calling for an assets freeze and travel ban on Putin’s powerful inner circle who are accused of multiple crimes. Our community is spread across every corner of the world — if we can push the Europeans to act, it will not only hit Putin’s circle hard, as many bank and have homes in Europe, but also counter his anti-Western propaganda, showing him that the whole world is willing to stand up for a free Russia. Click below to support the sanctions and tell everyone:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/free_pussy_riot_free_russia_a/?bMPbqab&v=17285

Last week’s trial is about far more than three women and their 40-second ‘punk prayer’. When tens of thousands flooded the streets to protest rigged elections, the government threw organisers into jail for weeks. And in June Parliament effectively outlawed dissent by raising the fine for unsanctioned protest an astounding 150-fold, roughly the average Russian’s salary for a whole year.

Pussy Riot may be the most famous Russian activists right now, but their sentence is not the grossest injustice of Putin’s war on dissent. In 2009, anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered a massive tax fraud at the heart of Russia’s power dealers, died in jail — without a trial, on shaky charges, and with medical attention repeatedly denied. 60 of Russia’s elite have been under scrutiny for the case and its cover-up, and the sanctions the European Parliament is proposing are on this inner circle.

International attention to Russia’s crackdown is cresting right now, and the ‘Magnitsky sanctions’ are the best way to put the heat on Putin and help create breathing room for the suffocating democracy movement. Let’s give Europe’s leaders a global public mandate to adopt the sanctions. Sign the petition now and share this with everyone:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/free_pussy_riot_free_russia_a/?bMPbqab&v=17285

What happens in Russia matters to us all. Russia has blocked international coordination on Syria and other urgent global issues, and a Russian autocracy threatens the world we all want, wherever we are. The Russian people face a serious challenge, but we know that people-powered movements are the best cure for corruption and iron-fisted governments — and that international solidarity can help keep the flame of these movements alive. Let’s join together now to show Putin that the world will hold him to account and push for change until Russia is set free.

With hope,

Luis, David, Alice, Ricken, Lisa, Vilde, and the Avaaz team

Free Pussy Riot

Dear Gabriel,

The Pussy Riot trial began in Moscow on Monday. Three young women charged with “hooliganism” now face up to seven years’ imprisonment. Why? Because their punk rock band gave a politically charged and impromptu performance poking fun at President Putin at a cathedral.

But don’t judge these women too harshly. At least that’s what Putin said himself in a stunning statement Thursday: “There is nothing good in what they did [but] I don’t think they should be judged too severely.”

However, Putin’s words have not yet translated into action. Seven years incarceration is still a very real possibility. Our sources inside Russia tell us that the trial may wrap up as early as next Wednesday, August 15, and some signs are pointing in the direction of sending the women off to a labor camp.

Say what you will about Pussy Riot: this may not be your kind of music. Some people find their shows offensive.

But it doesn’t change the facts: Since March, these young women have been in jail and kept from their families, including small children, and they are being threatened with seven years imprisonment – all because of a peaceful protest song that lasted less than a minute.

Tell the Russian authorities to drop all charges and release Pussy Riot immediately.

Amnesty International considers these women to be prisoners of conscience, and we are not going to give up on them. Sadly, members of Pussy Riot aren’t the only ones getting caught up in the backlash against dissidents in Russia lately. One of Putin’s fiercest critics, blogger Alexei Navalny, was charged this week with embezzlement, a crime that could carry up to a 10-year prison sentence.

The crackdown doesn’t stop there. In recent weeks, President Putin and his cronies have moved swiftly to limit street protests by enforcing hefty fines and re-criminalizing some forms of defamation.

Oppression thrives in silence. That is why we must loudly demand that Russian authorities free Pussy Riot now!

It is not hard to spot Pussy Riot supporters – bright tights, colorful dresses and faces covered by balaclavas. At our protests outside the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC, we’re using multi-colored ski masks – check out our pictures!

Some high-profile musicians are also taking action in solidarity. During recent concerts in Russia, rockers Sting, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Franz Ferdinand all called on the Russian authorities to free Pussy Riot and respect freedom of expression. Madonna, Peter Gabriel and Pete Townshend of The Who have voiced their support, too, while Björk has invited other members of Pussy Riot to join her on tour.

Now that even President Putin has flinched at the punishment Pussy Riot is facing, it won’t be long now before the court in Moscow faces the music that world leaders, celebrities and activists alike are already chanting with passion and pride:

Thank you for all you do to stand for justice,

Michelle A. Ringuette
Chief of Campaigns & Programs
Amnesty International USA

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