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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Jailed: Single mom, punk rocker, defender of free speech

Amnesty International
Pussy Riot member has a temporary chance at freedom and reunion with her 5-year-old son.
Her son is just 5 years old and she hasn't held him for months. This is Maria "Masha" Alekhina's sentence for staging mere seconds of a protest song in Moscow's main Orthodox cathedral and for being a member of Russian punk group, Pussy Riot. However, tomorrow's court ruling could dramatically change Masha's situation.

Call on Russian officials to free Pussy Riot member Masha Alekhina!

Within hours, the hearing taking place in the women's prison where Masha is being held, will determine whether she will be released because she is a single mother to a small child. If released, Masha's sentence would be postponed until her son turns 14. While the reunion of Masha and her son would certainly be welcomed, an unconditional release is what she should be granted. Until then, we will continue to demand to justice.

Let's not forget that Masha, and fellow Pussy Riot member Nadezhda "Nadya" Tolokonnikova -- who is also still being detained in a different women's prison -- should have never been prosecuted in the first place! 

A legitimate peaceful protest -- which is what Pussy Riot's impromptu punk performance was-- should not be a criminal offense, and certainly not punishable by time served away from family and in the harshest of conditions.

Speak out for the women of Pussy Riot -- we want free speech and freedom right now!

The support base for these women stretches far and wide. We've seen Madonna perform to a sold-out show in Moscow with the words "Pussy Riot" written in bold letters across her back. We've seen Sting, Roger Waters and Matt Cameron of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam add themselves to our Free Pussy Riot map, among many other artists and musicians. We've also read the extraordinary messages of support to the women of Pussy Riot that have flooded in from all around the world from people like you, our incredible supporters:
"I think of you often and hope governments around the world will soon wake up to the fact that suppressing people's thoughts and actions are not in anyone's best interests." -- Robert Hasselbrink from Colorado

"Your courage and conviction are shining lights in a dark world..." -- Nancy King from New Mexico

"Stay strong and know that people are doing good work to help you." -- Tony Howard from Texas

"As a woman, I'm very proud of you, your strength, your fight...Hold on girls." -- Marie Ocana from France
Tomorrow's court date presents a window of opportunity. Unfortunately, Masha's chance at freedom would only be temporary right now, but our fight for justice will be relentless.

Take a stand for free speech and reunite a mother with her son. Help free Pussy Riot!

In Solidarity,

Samir Goswami
Director, Individuals and Communities at Risk Program
Amnesty International USA

Temporary freedom? 

Within 24 hours a court will decide if Pussy Riot member Masha Alekhina will be reunited with her 5-year-old son and her sentence postponed.

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