Friday, August 17, 2012

Free Pussy Riot!

Yes, I mentioned Pussy Riot's trial in a 'blog post earlier this month, but since the verdict is due today, I thought I'd mention it again and add my voice to those of Pete Townshend, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Regina Spektor, Paul McCartney, Björk, Patti Smith, Madonna, Tegan and Sara, Genesis, Peaches, Faith No More, the Beastie Boys, Johnny Marr, Yoko Ono, Anti-Flag, Rise Against!, and other musicians (and non-musicians) in demanding justice in this ridiculous case.


Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot

Three members of the punk band / feminist performance art group Pussy Riot were arrested in March and charged with "premeditated hooliganism performed by organized group of people motivated by religious hatred or hostility," a charge which could earn each of them seven years in prison; the months-long detentions they've already endured are far more severe punishment than their offenses (essentially disturbing the peace in a Russian Orthodox cathedral to protest, loudly but non-violently, against an apparent collusion between Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, and its church, or more specifically the church's patriarch; watch the video here and decide for yourself) would've merited in any truly democratic nation.  Even the prosecution's recommended three-year sentence would be a travesty and a miscarriage of justice.  Anything more than the time served would undermine Russia's progress toward freedom since Putin's beloved Soviet days and make a mockery of the Russian court system.

I've been a fan of punk rock since about the age of 16 (which makes it, yes, a long time), and while I certainly enjoy the nihilism of the Sex Pistols and the Blitzkrieg bop of the Ramones, it was always the socially- and politically-aware lyrics of the Clash and the Dead Kennedys that resonated most with me.  A free society needs the ability, nay, the right to stick a tongue or a middle finger at political/social/religious/etc. individuals or groups with whom we disagree.   A holiday in Cambodia and Spanish bombs might not be the most pleasant topics of discussion, but ignoring wrongs and evils doesn't make them go away.

Pussy Riot is guilty of a disruptive political protest.   They could've made their point in a more socially acceptable way and not have offended the sensibilities of some (apparently hypersensitive) church members, but they shouldn't be treated as enemies of the state and church for their actions, and they wouldn't have been in the US or the UK or France.  A few days in jail, maybe a fine, would have sufficed for the brouhaha; instead, Russia seems intent on making them prisoners of conscience and martyrs for freedom of speech.  Putin's supporters state that the girls would've been treated far more harshly had their action been taken in a mosque in a Muslim country... so, that's the standard we should be using in an allegedly democratic court of law?  Sharia?  It's OK, your right even, to be perturbed, angered, outraged at their behavior, but in the end they didn't commit an offense serious enough to merit seven years in prison.

At the end of the trial, one of the defendants, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, made a closing statement that should be read by anyone interested in human rights - which should be everyone, really.  There are many protests and actions scheduled around the world today, from Barcelona to Chicago to Edinburgh to Moscow to Sydney, to show support for these three young rebels and the freedom to peacefully protest.  The women are right; judgment is being passed upon the Putin regime today, not upon them.  "Open the doors, off with the military insignia, join us in a taste of freedom."  Free Pussy Riot!

3 comments:

  1. These kids were raised in a post communism era where religion, for their parents, was mocked by the gov. and those who practiced their religion subject to the gulags in Siberia. To say that these young women have been found guilty of hooliganism driven by 'religious hatred and offending religious believers' only means that they have learned The Party's edicts well - and for that they are imprisoned. Of course, this whole thing is a farce. The real reason why they are imprisoned is because they mocked Putin, and his massive ego was offended - massively. And for this, they must pay the price. Better for them if they fawned over his bare chested ride on his horse. What a way to make his public fall in love with him. That's what he really wants, isn't it? He just doesn't know how to go about it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's the point a lot of people are failing to see; had these been three American girls in an American church (or synagogue, or mosque) with the same "punk prayer" to send Obama or Bush away, they may well still have been arrested, but they would never have faced months in pre-trial detention, much less two-year jail sentences. Most Western democracies, with church and state firmly separated, would have been similarly annoyed by, but tolerant of, their behavior. The freedom to express dissatisfaction with one's leaders and with legal and social inequalities is something Putin seems determined to keep from the Russian people, and sadly, too many of the Russian people seem quietly accepting of this.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think the admin of this website is really working hard in support of his web site, as here every information is quality based information.

    ReplyDelete