Release Illegally Detained Activist Musicians

Free Pussy Riot

Target: President of Russia, Vladimir Putin

Goal: Release Russian activists from jail and drop hooliganism charges.

Three members of the Russian activist band, Pussy Riot, have been in jail since singing a protest song in Moscow’s main Orthodox Church in February 2012. Awaiting their trial for hooliganism on the grounds of religious hatred, the women face up to seven years in prison. Please sign this petition and support releasing the women and dropping the serious charges they face for playing a song.

Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are accused of performing the song “Virgin Mary, Redeem Us of Putin” in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. The song asks the Virgin Mary to become a feminist and relinquish Vladimir Putin. The song also criticizes the dedication and support Putin receives from representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church. The performance lasted only a few minutes; the band left when asked to do so and caused no damage besides shortly disrupting Cathedral visitors. Other members of the band have not been detained, and protests leading up to the winter election included as many as 100,000 participants in Moscow.

The Orthodox Church and its supporters have called for harsh punishment against the accusation: “A malicious, carefully planned act to denigrate the feelings and beliefs of the many Orthodox Christian worshippers and to belittle the state’s spiritual foundation,” according to BBC News. The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly stated that freedom of expression applies to not only inoffensive ideas, “but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population.” Protestors and supporters stand at odds in front of the jail where the band members are being held.

Please sign this petition and support the release, and elimination of charges brought against members of the peaceful activist band, Pussy Riot.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Putin,

Three members of the punk band, Pussy Riot, have been detained since February, 2012 for singing a song in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. The song, “Virgin Mary, Redeem Us of Putin” challenges the support you receive from the Russian Orthodox Church. The protest took place during a political season where many Russian citizens protested your reign and re-election.

Why are these three women facing the serious charges of hooliganism? Why not arrest the other members of the band or the 100,000 protestors seen leading up to your election? The European Court of Human Rights contends that freedom of expression applies not only to inoffensive thought, “but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population.” Human rights activists across the world and over 100 prominent Russian celebrities have called for the release of the women. After having been jailed for 5 months, their pre-trial detention was recently extended for another 6 months, until January, 2013, nearly a year since the incident occurred.

Amnesty International states, “The broader political context surrounding the anti-Putin protests at the time – and the anticlerical, anti-Putin content of the activists’ message (themselves unpunishable) – have clearly and unlawfully been taken into account in the charges that have been brought against them.” Please release Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and drop the serious charges against them in support of freedom of speech, expression, and assembly.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: pixelwhip via flickr

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