Target: President Vladimir Putin
Goal: Stop the harassment and arrests of peaceful protesters expressing their views about the Ukrainian conflict
After the end of the Sochi Olympics, the Russian government has increased harassment and arrests of peaceful protesters. It’s believed that this latest crackdown on freedom of speech and expression is related to the unfolding conflict in Ukraine and Crimea. Detentions, harassment, arrests, and violent attacks are running rampant, validating predictions from human rights groups who were concerned that the Russian government would silence peaceful dissenters. The government needs to stop violating the people’s right to freedom of speech, and allow their citizens to protest peacefully.
Between the months of February and March, 2014, Russian police detained 1,264 protesters in Moscow. 15 of those protesters were ordered by the courts to serve 10 days of administrative detention for failure to obey police orders, and dozens of others were fined for participating in unauthorized public gatherings. Based on witness accounts and testimonies, the police were detaining and arresting people without due cause and have detained protesters from other cities. The message is clear: those who wish to express their views on the politics or government of Russia will be swiftly disciplined and silenced.
Police were seen without identification or badges, but continued to detain protesters. Not having a visible badge or identification is against Russian law, but this didn’t stop authorities. Many of them wouldn’t explain why protesters were being detained or arrested. Police targeted the most peaceful of protesters, who held up posters and chanted slogans, before targeting those who were more aggressive and vocal.
Those who were arrested could be fined up to $810 or spend ten days in administrative detention. Human rights groups in Russia are trying to lend aid to those who were illegally detained, but with the number of detainees flooding in resources are becoming strained.
The right to freedom of expression and speech should never be taken away, but the Russian government continues to deny this right to its citizens. Whether these citizens are for or against the conflict in Ukraine and Crimea, they should have a right to speak of it without the interference of the government. Sign this petition and demand a stop to the harassment and detainment of peaceful protesters in Russia.
Dear President Vladimir Putin,
After the end of the Sochi Olympics, harassment and arrests of peaceful protesters increased significantly, and many believe that is due in part to the conflict unfolding in Ukraine and Crimea. These are peaceful protesters who are trying to make their voices heard, and yet your government continues to silence them.
No country or power has any right to silence its citizens. Every human being has the right to freedom of speech and expression, a right that a human being is inherently born with and is protected by international law. Whether your citizens are for or against the conflict in Ukraine, they have the right to voice their opinions. Stop this harassment and let your citizens exercise their right to free speech.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Rob Lee via flickr