Posts Tagged ‘dissent’

Free Pussy Riot, then Free Russia!

August 23, 2012
Free Pussy Riot! Free Russia!

Free Pussy Riot! Free Russia!

I recall many years ago reading a slim book by German writer Hermann Hesse. A man was in prison, but he was free because his mind was free. The front cover had a man in gaol, the prison walls were dissolving, beyond could be seen the countryside and the man was stepping through into freedom. It was a powerful image!

I thought of that book when facing two years in jail for singing a song criticizing President Putin in a church, a member of Pussy Riot gestured to the court and said in her show-trial’s closing statements:

“Despite the fact that we are physically here, we are freer than everyone sitting across from us … We can say anything we want…”

Russia is steadily slipping into the grip of a kleptocracy — clamping down on public protest, rigging elections, intimidating media, banning gay rights parades for 100 years, and even beating critics like chess master Garry Kasparov. But many Russian citizens remain defiant, and Pussy Riot’s eloquent bravery has galvanized the world’s solidarity. Now is our best chance to show Vladimir Putin there is a price to pay for this repression and that lies with Europe.

Many of us have friends in Russia, we see Russia as a modern Western democracy, and yet at the same time we fear for our friends when we see Russia sliding back into the darkness of the Stalin purges, where any form of criticism or dissent is not tolerated, where the Mafia Monks of Moscow are in an unholy alliance with the Kremlin.

The European Parliament is calling for an assets freeze and travel ban on Vladimir Putin’s powerful inner circle who are accused of multiple crimes. Our community is spread across every corner of the world — if we can push the Europeans to act, it will not only hit Putin’s circle hard, as many bank and have homes in Europe, but also counter his anti-Western propaganda, showing him that the whole world is willing to stand up for a free Russia. 

It is not only Russians who want to see a free Russia. None of us wish to see Russia become a pariah state like Iran or Saudi Arabia or North Korea.

Click below to support the sanctions and tell everyone:

Last week’s trial is about far more than three women and their 40-second punk prayer to the Virgin Mary pleading to rid Russia of Vladimir Putin. When tens of thousands flooded the streets to protest rigged elections, the government threw organisers into jail for weeks. And in June, the Russian Parliament effectively outlawed dissent by raising the fine for unsanctioned protest by an astounding 150-fold, roughly the annual salary for an average Russian. 

A sanctioned protest is in itself an oxymoron. We should not have to seek permission of authority to hold a protest.

Pussy Riot may be the most famous Russian activists right now, but their sentence is not the grossest injustice of Putin’s war on dissent. In 2009, anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered a massive tax fraud at the heart of Russia’s power dealers, died in jail — without a trial, on shaky charges, and with medical attention repeatedly denied. Sixty of Russia’s elite have been under scrutiny for the case and its cover-up, and the sanctions the European Parliament is proposing will hit this inner circle. 

International attention to Russia’s crackdown is cresting right now, and the ‘Magnitsky sanctions’ are the best way to put the heat on Vladimir Putin and help create breathing room for the suffocating democracy movement. Let’s give Europe’s leaders a global public mandate to adopt the sanctions. 

Please sign the petition and share this with everyone:

What happens in Russia matters to us all.

Since taking office Vladimir Putin has turned Russia into a pariah state.

Russia has backed Assad in his brutal slaughter of the Syrian people, has blocked all resolutions at the UN Security Council, has been condemned by the UN General Assembly.

Russia in what was seen as a Stalin-era show trial, has sentenced three members of Pussy Riot to two years in a penal colony. The security forces are seeking other members of Pussy Riot to put on trial.

Charlie Veitch discussing his arrest

May 2, 2011

In a pre-crime arrest, Charlie Veitch was one of many dissidents arrested in the run-up to the Royal Wedding.

In true Orwellian tradition, these arrests were carried out in the name of democracy.

Just in case the message had not got through that dissent would not be tolerated, facebook political groups were deleted!

Preemptive arrests
Political policing of dissent

Political policing of dissent

May 1, 2011
Transition Heathrow riot police raid a greenhouse

Transition Heathrow riot police raid a greenhouse

King George asks are you a cop? Cop says no.

King George asks are you a cop? Cop says no.

zombies surrounded on Oxford Street

zombies surrounded on Oxford Street

zombies arrested

zombies arrested

another zombie arrested

another zombie arrested

What we have seen over the last week is the the iron fist of the state smashed in the face of dissent.

Over the past week there has been what can only be described as political policing of dissent. Yes, it has always been thus, but now far more blatant, a gung-ho, we can do as we please, in your face policing.

In the lead-up to the Royal Wedding, preemptive arrests of known dissidents, reminiscent of the round-up of dissidents before the Bejing Olympics.

One of the worst examples was the arrest of Charlie Veitch. He was arrested then ‘disappeared’. No one knew where he was being held, not his girlfriend, not his lawyer. And those who did know were not saying. Charlie was not allowed to contact his lawyer.

What difference was there between the arrest of Charlie Veitch in Cambridge, search of his home, and the arrest and search of his home of Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei?

Squats were raided.

The raid on the squat in Bristol was more like a drugs bust. The police were so heavy handed, that all by themselves they caused a riot. A week later, when a film was being shown of what took place, the police again went in heavy-handed.

Forty riot police raided Transition Heathrow, a community garden growing vegetables.

The police found those on site in possession of vegetables, chickens, bees and an enthusiasm to create a sustainable community in a world threatened by climate change.

Transition Heathrow has had a beneficial impact on Sipson, restoring wasteland to productive use.

It is no coincidence that simultaneous with the action by the police, over 50 political groups on facebook had their accounts closed.

Not that there should be any surprise. Facebook is not a neutral platform.

David Cameron warned the authorities not to interfere if local residents decided to throw a party to mark the Royal Wedding. This apparently did not filter down to the plods on the ground in either London or Glasgow.

In Glasgow the police turned a party into a riot.

In Soho Square, skinhead thugs, oops sorry, plain clothes police, attacked Zombies. A photographer who was recording what was taking place was assaulted by the police as he tried to leave Soho Square, stopped and searched once out on the street, then stopped yet again, assaulted, arrested and taken to a police station where he was forced to provide fingerprints and a DNA sample.

It is difficult to see a difference between the activities of state security thugs in Tahrir Square in Cairo to Soho Square in London.

On a Friday and Saturday night, the centre of Guildford in Surrey is turned into a no-go area by drunken scum. There is no action by the police to deal with the problem. It is only the patrols by Street Angels that stops it getting any worse.

Easter Sunday, EDL were allowed to march through Brighton even though there was the serious risk of public disorder.

Why was Glasgow and Soho Square targetted whereas a blind eye is turned to Guildford and many other town centres every Friday and Saturday night?

Guildford is part of the nighttime economy, a corporate imposed culture, Big Business is making money. In Glasgow and Soho Square people were making their own entertainment, they were doing it for free.

People have to understand they are consumers. They cannot be allowed to think.

What has happened over the last week, the iron fist in the face of dissent, is no different to the reaction of the authorities in Bahrain, Libya or Syria.

%d bloggers like this: