By: Amber Harvey
Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Sting, Elton John, Billy Joel, Pete Townshend and Jeff Beck are among the 100+ artists who have signed an open Amnesty International letter this week calling for the release of the jailed members of the Russian feminist punk group Pussy Riot.
In anticipation of their parole hearings this week , the letter is addressed to Pussy Riot’s 25-year-old Maria Alekhina and 23-year-old Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who were charged with “hooliganism on grounds of religious hatred” after performing a protest song at Moscow’s main Orthodox cathedral in February 2012.
“The Pussy Riot case has shocked musicians all over the world and we’ve had an incredible response to the call to sign this letter,” says Lucy Macnamara, Communications Manager for Art for Amnesty via Amesty International’s website. “Several musicians have told me that if you can’t sing a protest song without fear of arrest then something is badly wrong.”
In the letter, 100+ renowned musicians from across the globe pledge their support for the jailed female activists and write that: “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,” the letter continues, “we ask that the Russian authorities review these harsh sentences, so that you may return to your children, your families and your lives.”
Before signing “Yours in solidarity,” the letter insists that “the right to freedom of expression and dissent is a legitimate one and essential in any kind of democracy,” and says that the “strength, bravery and fearlessness” of Maria and Nadezhda has been “an inspiration to us all.”
For more info, check out Art for Amnesty’s Facebook, and please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.