Yesterday Amnesty International USA marked the one year anniversary of the arrest and imprisonment of a Russian feminist punk rock trio with a protest demonstration at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in NW, DC.
One year ago today, a Russian band of three female punk rockers with a controversial name chose to protest the Russian presidential Putin's allegedly patriarchal platform by performing in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.
Since their subsequent arrest and imprisonment, the feminist punk band known for brightly colored knit face masks, neon tones of wild clothing and a shocking name has become a world-wide symbol of Russian political oppression and the fight for freedom of speech.
Examiner exclusively interviewed Jasmine Heiss, Campaigner for the Individuals and Communities at Risk Program at this event which she organized.
'We're here today in front of the Russian Embassy on the one year anniversary of their imprisonment, to remind them that we're still watching and we're still waiting for the immediate and unconditional release of Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina.'
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and band-mate Maria Alyokhina are still serving two-year sentences in hard-labor prison camps over a protest against Putin last year. They and fellow band member Yekaterina Samutsevich were sentenced in August 2012 for "hooliganism" motivated by religious hatred for singing an anti-Putin “punk prayer” in the cathedral.
DC Public Schools Examiner asked Heiss how teachers and reporters could teach and cover this symbolic story of such world-wide importance and interest in a decent way, given that the band has an indecent name.
Heiss said, "These are feminists fighting against a patriarchy. They are symbols of a much larger movement."
Heiss agreed that the band's name would be inappropriate to write on a classroom chalkboard. Heiss noted, however, that this particular story of political repression in Russia has dramatically captured the interest of both the mainstream media and the “youth element” of grassroots organizations like Amnesty International, and it would be a lost opportunity not to encourage and guide more youth involvement.
Heiss also agreed that there are hundreds of other jailed political dissidents and prisoners of conscience in Russia. Heiss hopes to parlay youth interest in the jailed rockers to “elevate other cases.”
She says Amnesty International is looking forward to the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia to turn the spotlight on the Putin regime and his other political prisoners.
Heiss wants Examiner readers to know,