Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Amnesty International ask Russian authorities to investigate Pussy Riot member's jail abuse claims

Amnesty International have called on the Russian authorities to investigate jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's abuse claims.

Tolokonnikova went on hunger strike earlier this week as a protest against prison conditions. In an open letter, published by The Guardian, she writes of the hunger strike: "This is an extreme method, but I am convinced that it is my only way out of my current situation."

Amnesty International's Moscow Office Director Sergei Nikitin has spoken out in support of Tolokonnikova, writing in a statement that the authorities "must immediately and unconditionally release the activists and quash all charges against them." He also stated that the authorities should investigate claims made by Tolokonnikova in which she alleges that she and her fellow inmates are made to work 17 hour days, saying: "What the authorities should do is investigate the allegations she made. The case against members of the band Pussy Riot has been consistently outrageous from start to finish, and sought nothing other than to undermine the band members' right to freedom of expression."

In her open letter, Tolokonnikova wrote: "At best, we get four hours of sleep a night. We have a day off once every month and a half. We work almost every Sunday". She adds: "The hygienic and residential conditions of the camp are calculated to make the prisoner feel like a filthy animal without any rights."

Tolokonnikova explains that she will continue with her hunger strike "until the administration starts obeying the law and stops treating incarcerated women like cattle ejected from the realm of justice for the purpose of stoking the production of the sewing industry; until they start treating us like humans." Read the full letter here.

Tolokonnikova and fellow jailed Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina both had appeals for parole rejected earlier this year. They are both serving two-year sentences for breach of public order motivated by religious hatred. The sentences were handed to them in August 2012 after the band performed their now infamous 'punk prayer' protest against President Vladimir Putin at the Cathedral of Christ The Savior in Moscow in February 2012.

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