Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, one of the jailed members of Pussy Riot after being transferred to one of the worst Russian prisons has began a hunger strike against the barbaric conditions at her prison:
- Prison labor units with 18 work hour days that sometimes end at midnight.
- Works days that allow only four hours of sleep a night..
- Only one day off every 45 days.
- Crazy work quotas with no basis in reality.
- Prison commanders left over from the days of "STALIN."
I hope the Daily Kos community will forgive the large cut and paste in this diary but I hope folks will understand in light of seriousness of the charges made against the Russian prison system.
Several online activists have started an online petition at Change.org in support of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's HUNGER STRIKE to protest the barbaric, gulag-like conditions in Russian prisons.
Please join us in signing the petition at:
Read Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's open letter published this week by documenting her prison conditions and telling why she started her hunger strike below the fold:
From today's The Guardian:
Nadezhda's open letter about the gross Human Rights violations!
Pussy Riot's Nadezhda Tolokonnikova: Why I have gone on hunger strike
In an open letter, the imprisoned Pussy Riot member explains why the brutal conditions at Penal Colony No 14 have led her to undertake a hunger strike in protest
Beginning Monday, 23 September, I am going on hunger strike. This is an extreme method, but I am convinced that it is my only way out of my current situation.Please sign the Change.org petition in support of hunger strike.
The penal colony administration refuses to hear me. But I, in turn, refuse to back down from my demands. I will not remain silent, resigned to watch as my fellow prisoners collapse under the strain of slavery-like conditions. I demand that the colony administration respect human rights; I demand that the Mordovia camp function in accordance with the law. I demand that we be treated like human beings, not slaves.
It has been a year since I arrived at Penal Colony No 14 in the Mordovian village of Parts. As the prisoner saying goes: "Those who never did time in Mordovia never did time at all." I started hearing about Mordovian prison colonies while I was still being held at Pre-Trial Detention Centre No 6 in Moscow. They have the highest levels of security, the longest workdays, and the most flagrant rights violation. When they send you off to Mordovia, it is as though you're headed to the scaffold. Until the very last moment, they keep hoping: "Perhaps they won't send you to Mordovia after all? Maybe it will blow over?" Nothing blew over, and in the autumn of 2012, I arrived at the camp on the banks of the Partsa River.
Mordovia greeted me with the words of the deputy chief of the penal colony, Lieutenant Colonel Kupriyanov, who is the de facto head administrator of our colony. "You should know that when it comes to politics, I am a Stalinist." Colonel Kulagin, the other head administrator — the colony is run in tandem — called me in for a conversation on my first day here with the objective to force me to confess my guilt. "A misfortune has befallen you. Isn't that so? You've been sentenced to two years in the colony. People usually change their minds when bad things happen to them. If you want to be paroled as soon as possible, you have to confess your guilt. If you don't, you won't get parole." I told him right away that I would only work the 8 hours a day required by the labour code. "The code is one thing — what really matters is fulfilling your quota. If you don't, you work overtime. You should know that we have broken stronger wills than yours!" was Kulagin's response.
My brigade in the sewing shop works 16 to 17 hours a day. From 7.30am to 12.30am. At best, we get four hours of sleep a night. We have a day off once every month and a half. We work almost every Sunday. Prisoners submit petitions to work on weekends ...
Over and over, they attempt to get me to fight one of them, but what's the point of fighting with people who aren't in charge of themselves, who are only acting on the orders of the administration?
Mordovian prisoners are afraid of their own shadows. They are completely terrified. If only yesterday they were well-disposed toward you and begging, "Do something about the 16 hour work day!" after the administration started going after me, they're afraid to even speak to me.
I turned to the administration with a proposal for dealing with the conflict. I asked that they release me from the pressure manufactured by them and enacted by the prisoners they control; that they abolish slave labour at the colony by cutting the length of the workday and decreasing the quotas so that they correspond with the law. The pressure has only increased. Therefore, beginning 23 September, I am going on hunger strike and refusing to participate in colony slave labor. I will do this until the administration starts obeying the law and stops treating incarcerated women like cattle ejected from the realm of justice for the purpose of stoking the production of the sewing industry; until they start treating us like humans.