Pussy Riot members appear in new video to support #SolidarityWisconsin protest singers

By on March 11, 2014

#solidaritywisconsin

Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonikova and Masha Alyokhina have made a surprise appearance in a new video by human rights group The Voice Project. The new video and campaign, #SolidarityWisconsin, launched Tuesday to petition Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to drop the prosecution of the over 400 protest singers arrested in the Wisconsin state capitol last summer. The video features the Pussy Riot members, alongside protesters who had been arrested, the women expressing their solidarity with the Wisconsin protesters and encouraging them in their efforts to use music for social change.

Act now! HERE

#SolidarityWisconsin from The Voice Project on Vimeo.

The Wisconsin “Solidarity Sing Alongs” were born out of 2011 protests at the state capitol building in Madison where over 100,000 protesters descended on the state capitol building to protest Governor Scott Walker stripping collective bargaining rights from state employee unions. The daily sing alongs have been an ongoing continuation of those 2011 demonstrations. But following a crackdown on the protests last summer that saw over 400 singers arrested at the capitol building, the Solidarity Sing Alongs have become about more than unions and workers’ rights, but a referendum on free speech and freedom of expression with defendants and cases taken up by the ACLU and other free speech organizations.

“We’ve been here every day at noon to sing for three years, we haven’t missed a day and we’re still going,” said singer Brandon Barwick, who has 4 arrests and 34 citations as a result of singing at the capitol building. “We simply can’t back down and we won’t. The ability to speak out, to petition our government, it’s too important, and not just to us here in Wisconsin.”

“This is an issue that transcends politics, right and left, this is about standing up for freedom of expression, and that is a human right that also transcends borders,” said Voice Project Executive Director Hunter Heaney on the participation of the Russian activists in the campaign video. “The stifling of dissent, freedom of expression and foundational human rights, democracy being under threat and creeping authoritarianism, these are not just problems to read about in far off places like Russia and Crimea.” Heaney continued, “more and more we’re seeing artists and activists who have had enough, and who are summoning the courage to stand up to the direction the world is taking under its current leadership, and as an organization we’re working to defend, support and bring together those voices.”

The organization is The Voice Project, which began 4 years ago when Heaney and Anna Gabriel, daughter of Peter Gabriel, teamed up with friends to support efforts using music in bringing home child soldiers from war in central Africa. Defections from Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army have significantly increased over the last few years, and researchers point to these types of “come home” programs as one of the main reasons. And as The Voice Project documents in the film “Amplify Peace – Musicians United”, so have music driven efforts been able to decrease instances of hostility towards surrendering combatants. But these efforts are a long way from defending protest singers in Wisconsin and Russia. Mr. Heaney explains, “we started with wanting to amplify efforts where music was making the most significant and measurable impact on the world, and we’re still doing that. But as we branched out into other parts of the globe, we’ve found with increasing frequency that freedom of expression is under attack. And without that foundational right, efforts to use art and music to effect social change can’t even begin. So we’ve dedicated ourselves to this fight and we’re going in full force, rolling up our sleeves to help on these issues like we did with Pussy Riot, like we’re doing now with Wisconsin. And there will be more to come. Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of cases.”

The #SolidarityWisconsin video was shot prior to the recent attacks on the Russian activists which occurred in a Nizhny Novgorod McDonalds, and Wisconsin protester Michael Kissick yesterday returned the support in a private message to the women: “The Wisconsin Solidarity Sing Along and I are saddened and shocked about the brutal attack at the restaurant recently. Please accept our sincere wishes for a complete recovery. We acknowledge and appreciate your courage and fortitude. Solidarity!”

For more information:
www.voiceproject.org
the petition
Amplify Peace – Musicians United film

DaveHHM

Author: DaveHHM

Dave Luttrull: Owner/Editor in Chief of Hellhound Music. Star Wars nerd, Gamer, Destiny homer, blogger, writer and lover of all things music.

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