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Jan 24

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Punk Protest

Pussy Riot ebook

Pussy Riot ebook (Photo credit: Cea.)

Pussy Riot – jailed for singing a song!

Criticise David Cameron or the Church Of England and get two years in boot camp? Songs are not necessarily just for fun, and we should  think ourselves lucky we live here, says Jack Goodman

What do Bob Geldof and Public Enemy have in common? Not much, admittedly. But as one sang ‘Feed the world’ and the other shouted ‘Fight the power!’ they shared one thing: using music to give a voice to the poor and the oppressed.

We live in a country where music can be made as much to protest, as to dance to.

This is something we probably take for granted, but we shouldn’t because it is a right that millions around the world simply do not have.

Nowhere is this more shocking than in Russia. A country of huge wealth and a rich sporting and cultural history – in many ways a country like Britain. But last year three female musicians from the punk band ‘Pussy Riot’ were infamously put into prison for little more than singing a song.

One is now free, but a 22-year-old and a 24-year-old mother are still inside.

Singing in church – against the church

On February 21st 2012 three members of the punk band Pussy Riot performed a song in the Cathedral Christ the Savior in Moscow, the Russian capital, that criticised the Russian President Vladimir Putin and his relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church. They felt, as many did, that the President had too much power and was using the church as his ally.

Free Pussy Riot

Free Pussy Riot (Photo credit: gaelx)

They were arrested under charges of ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’ but to many people these girls were guilty of nothing more than criticizing a government that denies people the freedom of speech and a government that puts people in prison illegally. Many feel that Russia is no longer a proper democracy.

The girls had no previous convictions, had not caused anyone harm but were sentenced to two years imprisonment. An official from the British Foreign Office, Alistair Burt, described the verdict as calling “into question Russia’s commitment to protect fundamental rights and freedoms”.

 ’Hooligans against democracy’ got two years in jail

One of the girls has now been released but two remain in prison. Maria Alyokhina aged 24, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova aged 22, have been sent to two of the harshest prisons in Russia where the living conditions will be extremely difficult. The girls both have young children.

As a punk music group, as a collective of activists and as a symbol of political art, Pussy Riot have become a world wide phenomenon.

They have been given support from musicians across the world, even Madonna. Their sexy and cool façade has helped them gain such massive support but the fact of the matter is, the two girls remain in prison.

The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has not listened to this support and has ignored pressure from International politicians to free the women. He believes that the charges are justified, that Pussy Riot ‘got what they asked for’ and has attempted to distance himself from much of the hysteria in an attempt to portray the country’s independent legal system.

The Pussy Riot girls have shone a light on Russia – a country where people cannot protest against the government freely. Can you imagine two musicians in Britain being put into prison for two years for singing a song that criticises the Church of England or David Cameron? When you put this into perspective the true horror of what happened to Pussy Riot becomes clear.

The truth about Russia

You will see the smiles of the Pussy Riot girls for years to come, you may see them on TV or on stage. But think about what those smiles betray. They betray the truth about the current political situation in Russia, a country which at first glance seems similar to our own but a country where you might be put into prison for simply practising your art.

We have the freedom to use and make music how, why or where we like. Make the most of it.

Do you agree with Jack?

 

For more information visit FREE PUSSY RIOT

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Permanent link to this article: http://dandelionproject.org/pub/punk-protest/

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