Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Animal Collective, & More Call For Pussy Riot’s Release In Open Letter
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It’s been almost a year since members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot were found guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and sentenced to two years in prison. Despite the wishes of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and countless protests worldwide, two members of the band — Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova and Maria “Masha” Alekhina — remain behind bars today. Now, Amnesty International has organized a petition to have the band members released from what Amnesty calls “notoriously brutal penal colonies” where “there is serious concern for [Pussy Riot's] safety.” The human rights organization has collected signatures from dozens of musicians, including Animal Collective, Arcade Fire, Karen O, Phoenix, Radiohead, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, and lots more.

There are two missives from Amnesty, in fact: one, an open letter to the imprisoned musicians; the other, a petition addressed to Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika. You can read both below — as well as see the names of all the musicians who have already signed. And you can sign the petition yourself here.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL OPEN LETTER

Dear Masha and Nadia,

As the one-year anniversary of your trial approaches, we are writing to assure you that, around the world, people are both still thinking of you and working for your release. Although you were the most visible of the protesters, we know that there were many other young people who have suffered in the protests, about whom we are also very concerned. But, in many ways, through your imprisonment, you have come to represent them.

Many artists voiced their concern when these charges were first brought against you, we had every hope that the authorities, in dealing with you, would show some understanding, a sense of proportion, even some of the wonderful Russian sense of humour, but none of the above were forthcoming.

The impact of your shockingly unjust trial and imprisonment has spread far and wide. Especially among your fellow artists, musicians and citizens around the world, including the many parents who feel your anguish at being separated from your children. While understanding the sensitivities of protesting in a place of worship, we ask that the Russian authorities review these harsh sentences, so that you may return to your children, your families and your lives.

The right to freedom of expression and dissent is a legitimate one and essential in any kind of democracy. You have been accused of what could be described as ‘a victimless’ crime, but in our opinion, in a just society, there can be no crime where there is no identifiable ‘victim’.

Your strength, bravery and fearlessness are an inspiration to us all.

Yours in solidarity,

Bryan Adams, Adele, Alt-J, Laurie Anderson, Animal Collective, Anti-Flag, Arcade Fire, Arch Enemy, Archive, Joan Armatrading, Joan Baez, Beardyman, Jeff Beck, Yasiin Bey, björk, Rubén Blades, Billy Bragg, Jackson Browne, Peter Buck, Tracy Chapman, Chase & Status, Neneh Cherry, The Clash, Coldplay, Lily Rose Cooper, Dido, Django Django, Melissa Etheridge, Siobhan Fahey, Paloma Faith, First Aid Kit, Franz Ferdinand, Foster the People, fun., Peter Gabriel, Sir Bob Geldof, Kim Gordon, Debbie Harry, PJ Harvey, Don Henley, The Hidden Cameras, Niall Horan, Billy Joel, Sir Elton John, Ke$ha, Angelique Kidjo, The Knife, Mark Knopfler, Tom Lehrer, Sean Lennon, Annie Lennox, Lykke Li, Sir Paul McCartney, Romy Madley-Croft, Madonna, Zayn Malik, Stephen Malkmus, Marina & the Diamonds, Johnny Marr, Massive Attack, Mike Mills, Moby, Thurston Moore, Tom Morello, Alanis Morissette, James Morrison, Graham Nash, Kate Nash, Youssou N’Dour, Karen O, Yoko Ono, Clock Opera, Ozzy Osbourne, Liam Payne, Peaches, Joe Perry, Phoenix, Portishead, Portugal. The Man, Rain Phoenix, Cat Power, Radiohead, Bonnie Raitt, Rise Against, Patti Scialfa, Scissor Sisters, Paul Simon, Sleigh Bells, Patti Smith, Esperanza Spalding, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Stewart, Sting, Michael Stipe, Harry Styles, Neil Tennant, Louis Tomlinson, Pete Townshend, K T Tunstall, U2, Eddie Vedder.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PETITION:

In February 2012, members of Pussy Riot performed mere seconds of a protest song in Moscow’s main Orthodox cathedral that was critical of authorities in Russia. Two women – Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova and Maria “Masha” Alekhina – were found guilty of “hooliganism” and are serving sentences in notoriously brutal penal colonies.

Disappointingly, both Masha and Nadia – both having small children – were refused to be granted a deferral of their sentence until their children turn 14 years old. Both of them were also refused parole and are now appealing against this decision. The two women are prisoners of conscience and there is serious concern for their safety.

More than 100 internationally renowned musicians have joined a worldwide call for the release of the two jailed members of the Russian feminist punk group Pussy Riot ahead of their parole appeal hearings this week. Join them and sign the petition below.

Dear Prosecutor General,

I am writing to express my deep concern about Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, who were sentenced to two years in a penal colony for their participation in a February 2012 protest action by the feminist punk group Pussy Riot at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. These two women, both mothers in their twenties, were detained solely for their peaceful expression of their beliefs and thus, are Prisoners of Conscience.

I call on you to ensure that Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are immediately and unconditionally released. While they remain incarcerated, the two women must not be ill-treated by prison staff or inmates, and they must be allowed regular contact with their families and legal teams.

In closing, I welcome the news of Ekaterina Samutsevich’s freedom, but remain concerned about the conditional status of the release. The three Pussy Riot members should not have been prosecuted in the first place. I call on you and all authorities to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression in the Russian Federation, and to remedy the unjust treatment of these young women immediately.

I thank you for your attention.

Again, if you want to sign the petition, you can do so here.