Home / News / Amnesty International launches online letter writing campaign to free imprisoned Pussy Riot musicians
Amnesty International launches online letter writing campaign to free imprisoned Pussy Riot musicians

Amnesty International launches online letter writing campaign to free imprisoned Pussy Riot musicians

On August 18, a Moscow court sentenced three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot to two years in prison for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and enmity."  The punk rock members stormed the altar of the Russian Orthodox Church's Christ the Savior Cathedral in February and sang an anti-Putin punk prayer which included the line, "Virgin Mary, drive Putin away."  They were only there for about a minute, but believers were offended.  Admitted into evidence by the prosecution was data from computers which the prosecution said backed up its allegation that the singers were "motivated by a hatred of the Russian Orthodox Church."

News of the sentence quickly spread through the media, spurring advocates of free speech to take a stand.

Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova will have an appeal hearing on October 1, 2012.

Amnesty International is offering an online letter writing campaign so that people can send a message to Russian authorities now to stop the criminal persecution of Pussy Riot and protect free expression.  The letter, which signers can modify, reads:

I am deeply concerned about the imprisonment of Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova for performing a protest song in a cathedral as part of the feminist punk group “Pussy Riot” on February 21, 2012.

The two-year prison sentence handed down to Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is far too severe. The cathedral performance was a peaceful protest against President Vladimir Putin and those leaders of the Orthodox Church who have supported his repressive tactics.

While it is true that many Russians were offended by Pussy Riot’s actions, the women never incited violence and they do not deserve prison terms. They were prosecuted for political reasons and they are prisoners of conscience.

I call on you to immediately and unconditionally release the three imprisoned members of Pussy Riot. It is up to you to uphold the fundamental right to freedom of expression in Russia and ensure that there are no additional arrests or trials related to this case.

Among those standing for freedom of speech and conscience are a number of musicians. Amnesty writes, "Amnesty International USA and owners of legendary rock club CBGB, Tim Hayes and Louise Parnassa Staley, are joining forces to help free punk rock prisoners of conscience, Pussy Riot. Pussy Riot's case connects the worlds of music and human rights. The case has inspired many musicians to speak out on Pussy Riot's behalf including Sting, Anjelique Kidjo and Natasha Bedingfield. These musicians have also signed on to the joint AIUSA-CBGB letter calling for Pussy Riot's freedom (русский version): Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Anthony Bourdain, Bunny Carlos, Gogol Bordello, Patti Schemel and the Family of Joey Ramone."

[Link to Amnesty International's letter writing campaign.]

About D. Beeksma

One of the growing crowd of American "nones" herself, Deborah is a prolific writer who finds religion, spirituality and the impact of belief (and non-belief) on culture inspiring, fascinating and at times, disturbing. She hosts the God Discussion show and handles the site's technical work. Her education and background is in business, ecommerce and law.
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