There was a brief but loud and colourful solidarity action this afternoon at the State Library in Melbourne in support of jailed members of Russian Punk band Pussy Riot. Peter from Anarchist Black Cross Melbourne was MC, and the Melbourne Ukulele Kollective contributed amongst other things an English version of the “Punk’s Prayer” which Pussy Riot members originally performed in an Orthodox church, which in turn led to the arrest of the three women currently appealing their two-year jail sentences.
Melbourne’s contribution to the International Day of Solidarity called by supporters of jailed Pussy Riot members awaiting judgement and sentence (now found guilty and sentenced to two years jail – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-17/judge-finds-pussy-riot-guilty-of-hooliganism/4207014) was a candlight vigil at the old GPO building in Bourke Street. Despite the cold and a forecast of hail and thunder there was a good turnout, including quite a good proportion of suitably clad sympathisers:
Proceedings included the reading of a statement by Marisa of Anarchist Black Cross Melbourne and the announcement of a free punk rock music compilation ‘My Pussy Riot’ by Sydney supporters My Sydney Riot, as well as rap from Izzy Brown.
[Added 31 August - there is a fuller account of the rally by Bec Zajac in newmatilda.com]
Video is on its way (added, see below).
An earlier rally in support of Pussy Riot which we were not able to attend was reported at the time on Melbourne Indymedia. A list of places around the world taking part in today’s action can be found on the Free Pussy Riot website.
The Latin American Solidarity Network (LASNET) organised a picket outside the Chilean Consulate in Melbourne at lunchtime today, displaying the Mapuche flag and delivering a letter to be forwarded to the President of Chile, Sebastian Pinera.
Last Monday, 13 September, was the third anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Meanwhile, in Chile, 32 Mapuche political prisoners have been on hunger strike for over 65 days in protest at the Chilean Government’s continued violation of the human rights of the country’s Indigenous people.
The letter draws attention to the contradiction between the UN Declaration and the present lack of respect shown by the Chilean Government towards the Mapuche people, who it says “are currently subjected to frequent violent raids, where the victims are usually children and elders … the indiscriminate and fixed use of protected witnesses including minors; the excessive duration of investigation headed by the Public Ministry that only prepetuates preventive imprisonment.” It mentions as a particular concern from an Australian perspective “the application of the Anti-terrorist Law … created under the military government which led to the arbitrary judicial decision against the Mapuche people. We consider that this action attempts [to overturn] the democracy and human rights principles that [the Chilean Government]says it represents.”
There follows a list of demands, beginning with the “Immediate devolution of Mapuche ancestral territories and land” and the letter ends with the names of supporting organisations in Australia, including the Chilean Popular and Indigenous Solidarity Network,LASNET, Friends of the Earth – Australia, and many others.
The Anarchist Black Cross also sent a message of support, which was read out at the picket, and passers-by were offered a flier for the upcoming Solidarity Gathering to be held at Trades Hall on October 15-17 under the banner of “Defending Workers and Indigenous Rights – Building bridges and global resistance against Multinational Corporations” – details and the flier can be found on the LASNET website – http://www.latinlasnet.org/
LASNET are also holding a Latin Fiesta/Solidarity Spring Party on Saturday 25 September on the theme “Protecting our planet, defending our communities!” – starting at 7pm at the MUA Hall, 54 Ireland Street, West Melbourne, details also on the LASNET website.
There will be more protests until the Chilean Government takes heed…