Where it comes from.
Who it is for.
Why anyone would bother doing it.

Sometimes the compulsion to speak, and to be heard, is too strong. It refuses containment.
Watching the Belarus Free Theatre’s “Minsk 2011: A Reply to Kathy Acker” in Edinburgh 2011 was a reminder of how the free speech we enjoy in the West has been so hard-fought-for and hard won. Vital and necessary, “Minsk 2011” was an adrenaline injection, reminding us that theatre-work is most of the time mere ‘practice’. What we should be striving towards is the real thing, not practice, and “Minsk 2011” is the real thing, unquestionably. It presents it’s bleak and uncomfortable vision of the company’s homeland, Belarus (the last dictatorship in Europe, the only European State to retain the death penalty) knowing that the very existence of the company threatens the arrest and harrasment of company members on their return.

While London 2012 saw fit to trot out its own backwards-looking version of style-centric ‘Girl Power’ at the Olympics’ closing ceremony, three young Russian women (now known globally as Pussy Riot) were locked into a pathetically unjust show trial in a Moscow Courtroom. Perhaps taking a lead from Ukrainian activists Femen (who use an overt demonstration of femininity to garner the attention of the international press and social media towards their cause) Pussy Riot have generated global interest with their brave and articulate stance against Putin’s policies. They are feisty women (and mothers) who happen to be in a Punk Band and they show the future how it should be done.

We should honour and support these pioneers who have dared stand up to intimidation and censorship. Today three of the women from Pussy Riot were sentenced to 2 years imprisonment for offending religious sensibilities with their protest against the Government. Huge international interest in the case may well have contributed to a comparatively ‘lenient’ sentence, but make no mistake, this trial has been a PR disaster for the Russian Authorities and Pussy Riot will not be silenced. Imprisonment will only fuel the protest, shining a light on other travesties of justice committed by the regime which will not have warranted the world’s gaze . Pussy Riot will become a cause célèbre for a generation. These women have started something whose ramifications we may not hear the end of.

Pussy Riot’s “Putin Lights Up The Fires” video, courtesy of The Guardian

Amnesty International – Petition for Pussy Riot


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