Amnesty Iceland Joins In International Pussy Riot Campaign

10.8.2012
Words by Paul Fontaine
Amnesty Iceland will be participating in a campaign coordinated around the world by Amnesty International to pressure Russian authorities into releasing punk band Pussy Riot.

As many know, the Russian punk rock band were arrested last March after performing a song in a church calling for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be removed from power. They have been in jail ever since, and were recently denied bail. They face seven years in prison for "hooliganism". The case has aroused international attention and protest to what is seen by many to be a political arrest.

Iceland has been no exception when it comes to protesting the detention. Last month, protesters gathered at the Russian embassy, leading to one arrest. Iceland Airwaves directing manager Grímur Atlason has pledged to hold a punk rock concert outside of the Russian embassy and Russian Orthodox church every Thursday at noon, to voice disapproval for the continued detention of Pussy Riot.

Now, Amnesty Iceland is formally taking part in a global campaign against the Russian government being organised by Amnesty International. At the time of this writing, nearly 1,700 Icelanders have signed on within a single day.

The campaign encourages people to sign a letter being sent to Prosecutor of the Moscow's Central Administrative District Denis Gennadievich Popov, who is leading the case against the band. The closing paragraph of the letter states:
I respectfully urge you to drop the charges of hooliganism and immediately and unconditionally release Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova. Furthermore, I call on you to immediately and impartially investigate threats received by the family members and lawyers of the three women and, if necessary, ensure their protection. Whether or not the women were involved in the performance in the cathedral, freedom of expression is a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and no one should be jailed for the peaceful exercise of this right. Thank you for your attention to this serious matter.

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