Last-Minute Halloween Costume Idea: Don a Balaclava for Pussy Riot

Dress up for Pussy Riot this HalloweenStill looking for a Halloween costume? Why not don a balaclava for Pussy Riot and stand up for human rights!

Three members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot were arrested in February for performing a protest song at a Cathedral in Moscow. Russian prosecutors charged the three members with “hooliganism” and a court eventually handed two of them jail sentences. While we were thrilled to hear that the third detained member was conditionally released, one simple truth remains – none of these women should have been arrested in the first place. Demand that Russia release Pussy Riot now!

The women of Pussy Riot wear balaclava masks not only to protect their identities, but also to let the world know that anyone can fight for the right to free expression. This Halloween you can stand united with thousands of activists all over the country and wear a balaclava in support of Pussy Riot. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Balaclavas in Action

We got word yesterday that authorities will rule on Pussy Riot’s appeal on October 10. In the meantime balaclava-clad Amnesty activists have made their rounds across New York City during the UN General Assembly protesting the unjust 2 year prison sentence for three women of Pussy Riot.  And around the world thousands more joined in to make a very public statement that the world is watching.

Check out these inspiring images of balaclavas-in-action and join the movement by continuing to take action until each and every Pussy Riot member has been set free.

Time is Running Out for Pussy Riot

members of pussy riot

Yekaterina Samutsevich, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Maria Alyokhina could face three years in prison after they called for Vladimir Putin’s ouster in a song. (Photo AFP/GettyImages)

We thought we had more time. Sadly, the latest reports are saying that we may only have less than a week to stop Russian prosecutors from pursuing the outrageous charges against feminist punk band, Pussy Riot.

These young women are in serious danger of being shipped off to a labor camp, where they risk both physical and sexual abuse as prosecutors seek a 3-year sentence against them. There is no time to lose (take action here now).

Why? Because their punk rock band gave a politically charged and impromptu performance poking fun at President Putin at a cathedral.

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Sara Hickman: Why I Am Not Going to Eurovision

Policemen Man-handle Activist in Azerbaijan

Policemen man-handle a political activist during a protest in Baku, Azerbaijan, March 12, 2011. Azerbaijan is the host of the 2012 Eurovision song contest. ©IRFS

By Sara Hickman, Official State Musician of Texas

I have declined an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit a beautiful country and witness the world’s most-watched cultural event. That’s because my trip to Azerbaijan for Eurovision this week would be sponsored by a government responsible for grave human rights violations.  

Amnesty International has been diligently shining a light on human rights abuses in ex-Soviet Azerbaijan, which gets to host this year’s popular European concert competition – Eurovision. Azerbaijan has over a dozen recently-arrested prisoners of conscience, oppressed press, and almost no permitted political rallies.  I would love to visit Azerbaijan, but not at the expense of indirect association with human rights violations. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Russia: Where a Punk Rock Performance Could Land You in Prison

pussy riot

"Pussy Riot" (Image via Wikipedia)

Three young women in Russia may spend seven years in prison for “hooliganism” after a flash punk rock performance at a Moscow church that criticized President Vladimir Putin.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Ekaterina Samutsevich, alleged members of the controversial band Pussy Riot, were arrested in March 2012 and are being held in pre-trial detention following the politically-fueled performance at Moscow’s famed Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

Egyptian air is good for the lungs / Do Tahrir on Red Square!

Pussy Riot lyric

While the three women deny any involvement in the protest (band members cover their faces with balaclavas) even if they took part, the severity of the response by Russian authorities is not justifiable to the peaceful – even if to many, offensive – expression of their political beliefs.

Pussy Riot is a Moscow-based anonymous feminist band that, for the last year and a half, has played unauthorized “flash performances” to protest government policies (watch them in action here).  Pussy Riot’s members use their right to freedom of speech – through music – to shed light on what they perceive to be a corrupt government. In an interview with the Guardian, band member “Garadzha” explains:
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Powerful Documentaries About the Persecution of Iran’s Baha’is Motivate Thousands to Activism

Bahai event Washington

Plight of Baha'i Leaders Publicized in Washington

When creativity and artistic vision unite with passionate commitment to fight injustice, the result can take the world by storm!

The Education Under Fire project, which Amnesty International is proud to support, includes a documentary film Education Under Fire that that has been screened at dozens of venues around the U.S. since its Amnesty International-cosponsored debuts in New York and Los Angeles this past fall.

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Free My Husband

Picture of Lhamo Tso

Lhamo Tso - wife of Dhondup Wangchen © Amnesty International

My name is Lhamo Tso and I’m writing today to ask for your help securing the release of my husband, Dhondup Wangchen.

In 2008 Dhondup made a film called “Leaving Fear Behind,” capturing the voices of fellow Tibetans on the eve of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. China was awarded the prestigious Games with the hope that human rights in Tibet and elsewhere in China would improve.

Instead, China’s repression in Tibet has only worsened.

Attempts by Tibetans to secure their human rights are routinely crushed. Dhondup has been punished severely. He was tortured and held without charge for nearly a year, then sentenced in a secret trial to six years imprisonment for “inciting separatism.”

My husband has committed no crime.

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What We Can Learn From 'My Cousin Vinny' About The Death Penalty

joe pesci my cousin vinny

In a recent, pre-Oscars blog post, I asked you all to name your favorite death penalty themed movies. We got lots of responses, from the obvious, to the more obscure, to the somewhat off-topic. One film that did not get mentioned at all is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year: My Cousin Vinny.

Lawyers love My Cousin Vinny. It recently ranked third on the American Bar Association Journal’s list of top 25 movies. For many folks it’s an entertaining fish-out-of-water comedy about New Yorkers in Alabama, with classic (and in one case Oscar-worthy) performances by Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei and Herman Munster.

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Look Who's Coming to the Secret Policeman's Ball! And Watch it Live!

Hint: They’re funny. Another hint: They’re talented. Last hint: They’re going to make this SUNDAY, March 4th at 7PM ET/4PM PT/6PM CT an hilariously amazing night.

Jon Stewart, Kristen Wiig and Coldplay are just around the corner warming up for this Sunday’s Secret Policeman’s Ball in New York City. For just one night at Radio City Music Hall, a star-studded lineup of musicians and comedy favorites will pay hilarious tribute to free speech and Amnesty International’s human rights work.

Who else will be around to ruffle some dictator feathers? Here’s the full star-studded line up:

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Win Tickets to Amnesty's Star-Studded Secret Policeman's Ball!

The Secret Policeman's Ball

It’s no joke.

Jon Stewart
, Stephen Colbert, Coldplay and more, all in one room on Sunday, March 4th performing at Amnesty’s Secret Policeman’s Ball in New York City.

It promises to be an irreverently hilarious salute to free speech and Amnesty International’s life-saving human rights work, sure to ruffle the feathers of dictators everywhere.

New York City is far away, you say? You don’t even need to leave your comfortable couch. Watch it live online, streaming at EpixHD.com on March 4th, 7PM ET/4PM PT.

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