Target: Pussy Riot singer Nadezhda Tolokonnikova
Goal: Commend Pussy Riot singer for standing up for her rights while imprisoned
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is a member of Pussy Riot, a controversial group of female musicians in Russia whose lyrics include feminism, LBGT rights, and stating their opposition to President Vladimir Putin’s policies. The group of singers regards him as a dictator. However, due to a performance at a cathedral, the singer was arrested and charged with hooliganism fueled by religious hatred. She is currently serving her sentence at Penal Colony No 14 in the Mordovian region, but because of slavery-like conditions, the singer is going on a hunger strike.
The Mordovia Camp has several prison colonies, but all are notorious for their brutal conditions, 16-hour work days, high security, and grevious human rights violations. The stay at the prison is psychologically taxing as the administration will collaboratively punish all prisoners for the misdeeds or requests of one person. Tolokonnikova was sent to Penal Colony No 14 and has resided there for a year. The singer has released an open letter describing her reasons why she is going on hunger strike.
The labor code states that prison workers can only labor for eight hours a day, and Tolokonnikova stated that was how long her work day was going to be. But the administration of the colony stated that if she did not make her quota of the day, she would be forced to work overtime. Tolokonnikova works in a sewing workshop, where she slaves over a needle and machine for sixteen or seventeen hours a day with only four hours of sleep. She was placed on the assembly line with no training, and forced to keep up with the pace of the work. If the workers are feeling ill and need to rest, the administration responds with violence and humiliation.
The administration uses several ways to punish the inmates. Prisoners can be forced to stay in the lokalka, a fenced off passageway in the camp until lights out. Tolokonnikova describes an eldery woman who had to stay in the lokalka during the winter months where frostbite set on her fingers and a toe; they had to amputated. The prisoners can lose hygiene privileges, where they are no longer permitted to use the bathroom or wash themselves. They are also forbidden to eat their own food or drinks. The abusive ways the administration at Penal Code No 14 treats their prisoners makes them obedient slaves, completely terrified to disobey orders. Tolokonnikova who realizes that the women in these prisons are being treated like cattle, is going on a hunger strike to demand for their rights. She is also refusing to participate in the labor colonies. No doubt the prison administration will punish the Pussy Riot member further, however she remains steadfast in her resolve. Sign this petition and commend this woman for standing up for her rights.
Dear Nadezhda Tolokonnikova,
In this letter I want to give you hope and support. I cannot begin to imagine the amount of pain and suffering you are enduring at Penal Colony No 14, but know that you are a brave woman for standing up for your rights as a human being. Even in a prison, you should not be treated as slaves. You know that the law states you are only allowed to work eight hours and I commend you tremendously for stating this upon your arrival. I understand that the prison administration will not respond well to your hunger strike, but know that I stand with you and support you through your trials and tribulations in spirit.
I dearly hope that the administration will listen to your pleas and treat the prisoners like human beings. I also hope that your release will come soon and will not be prolonged because of your protests.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Aleshkovsky Mitya via Corbis