- 4:15 pm - Mon, Dec 9, 2013
- 3 notes
The members of the Pussy Riot punk band, Greenpeace activists and protesters jailed after the May 2012 Bolotnaya demonstration will be freed in an amnesty dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution, Russian media report.
It was reported today that 25,000 people may be freed under an amnesty initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, including the two remaining jailed members of political punk collective Pussy Riot. According a blog post on RT’s web site, Vladimir Vasilyez, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, confirmed the amnesty to Russian press agency Interfax, and several newspapers have obtained a copy of the draft amnesty that allows for the amnesty of those convicted under article 213 of the criminal code (which covers the crime of “hooliganism” that led to the conviction of Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova).
It should be noted that, according to RT, “[t]he amnesty will be adopted before the end of the year and implemented within the next six months, a high-ranked source in the parliament told [Russian newspaper] Izvestia”, which could render the notion of an amnesty mostly symbolic, since both Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were due to be released on 3 March 2014, well within that six-month application period.
- 6:53 pm - Fri, Dec 6, 2013
Q: Hi, my name is Elisabeth Klotz. I am co-curating an exhibition about Global activism, and we would love to present a video of Ibrahim Qashoush performing “Yalla Erhal Ya Bashar. Because of the strict copy right in Germany we can obnly sreen videos with the permission by the creator or the one who holds the rights on the music by Ibrahim Qashoush. Can you help us? Because we are opening next week, it would be great if you could answer me as soon as possible, Thank you and best wishes, Elisabeth
Unfortunately (as you may know) Ibrahim Qashoush’s identity has been the subject of debates, and the situation in Syria being what it is, it may be very difficult to find the source of the original video that made its way to Youtube. Your best bet would seem to be to try to contact Creative Syrian, which may have been involved in posting the clip, although there has been very little activity on that Facebook page (or the associated Twitter account) over the last two years.
I wish I could be more helpful, but please send me the details of your exhibit at my contact email, and I’ll be happy to publicize it on this blog - it sounds like a fantastic idea!
- 1:27 am
Nelson Mandela passed away yesterday at the age of 95. While there are many things to say about this extraordinary man’s life, the purpose of this blog is to look at political music, which is why I have chosen to gather some of the notable songs and musical performances (in particular the landmark Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute) inspired by Mandela and his struggle for a South Africa free from Apartheid.
By no means does this claim to be an exhaustive list, so feel free to add your own favorites in the comments.
Simple Minds - Mandela Day par Inedire
- 12:01 pm - Tue, Dec 3, 2013
Q: I am very much in the protest songs of the 20th centyry and their social/political background. What do you suggest as a good read . (books/magazines/studies...) in that connection ?
If what you are looking is a place to start to understand protest music, I would definitely recommend Dorian Lynskey’s 33 Revolutions per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, from Billie Holiday to Green Day. It is not perfect (as someone who has researched this, I learned little from the book, and it is a bit too focused on the Western world), but it a very good overview of a variety of protest songs and very, very readable. It will also give you a good sense of what you may wish to look into next.
If you want to get a more academic perspective on the topic, I can recommend John Street’s Music & Politics, but be aware that my recommendation comes with all the usual caveats about academic writings: it provides a lot of insight, but it may be more difficult to digest, particularly as it grapples with complex theoretical concepts. If you have access to academic journals, I can also shamelessly suggest my own article on a specific aspect of the relationship between politics and music, which you can find excerpted here.
There are other things that I could recommend, but I believe these make for a good starting point. Please feel free to email me at my contact address if you have any further questions.
- 4:43 pm - Wed, Sep 25, 2013
Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova Staging Hunger Strike, Now in Solitary Confinement
In case you missed it, Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova announced on Monday that she was beginning a hunger strike and withdrawing her labour to protest against her treatment in a women’s penal colony in the Mordovian village of Parts, where she has been imprisoned for the past year following her August 2012 conviction on hooliganism charges. In a long open letter translated by n+1 magazine's Bela Shayevich and published on The Guardian's website, Tolokonnikova writes of “slavery-like conditions” in the penal colony and says that one of the colony’s administrator’s described himself as “a Stalinist” while the other tried to force her to confess her guilt on her first day, and then threatened her with forced overtime labour.
The letter goes into great detail about Tolokonnikova’s work conditions (“My brigade in the sewing shop works 16 to 17 hours a day. From 1.30am to 12.30am. At best, we get four hours of sleep a night. We have day off once every month and a half. We work almost every Sunday.”), the system of “unofficial punishments” handed out by inmates put in charge of discipline (prisoners may be “forbidden to go into the barracks – whether it be autumn or winter”, “forbidden to wash themselves or use the bathroom” or “forbidden to eat their own food, or drink beverages”), the violations of labour codes (such as the reliance on decrepit, broken down machines and the arbitrary increases of production quotas), and the violence against prisoners that is covered up (some “are beaten up. For not being able to keep up. They hit them in the kidneys, in the face. Prisoners themselves deliver these beatings and not a single one of them is done without the approval and full knowledge of the administration”). Tolokonnikova adds that the “hygienic and residential conditions…are calculated to make the prisoner feel like a filthy animal without any rights”, with 800 prisoners sent to wash themselves in a “general hygiene room” with a capacity of five, and constant plumbing breakdowns (“At times, my unit was unable to bathe for two to three weeks”) and food rations often reduced to “stale bread, heavily watered-down milk, exclusively rusted millet and rotten potatoes”. Complaining about such inhuman working and living conditions, says Tolokonnikova, “instantly made conditions at the camp unbearable” and left her and her friends open to reprisals from the administrators. You can – and should – read her full statement here.
Yesterday, The Guardian reported that Tolokonnikova had been placed in solitary confinement, allegedly “for her own safety – not as punishment – after she complained of death threats” (Tolokonnikova’s lawyer confirmed that she had not been placed in a punishment cell). The Guardian also reported that the administrators of the penal colony have denied Tolokonnikova’s charges and have launched an internal investigation – though it might be fair to wonder what the price of this will be for the singer – while Vladimir Putin’s human rights ombudsman has sent two representatives to follow up on her allegations. You can read The Guardian's latest report on this story here.
Tolokonnikova is set to be released in March 2014.