Pussy Riot and Chilean group join forces against state repression

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Pussy Riot and Chilean group join forces against state repression


Governments around the world are using the coronavirus as an excuse to step up repression and push back civil liberties, warns a new song by Pussy Riot, released alongside a new manifesto written with the Chilean feminist collective Lastesis.

The Russian activists and the Chilean group – whose song A Rapist In Your Path became a viral feminist anthem in 2019 – released the manifesto against police violence and state repression on Friday.

“While we are confined, governments are intensifying the persecution of social struggles, tearing apart our rights, our freedoms,” it reads.

The song – whose title 1312 is a numerical representation of the anti-police acronym ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards) – strays into nu-metal dissonance, with singer Nadya Tolokonnikova howling “ACAB try to catch me wow!”.

The song refers to the wave of popular protest which erupted in Chile last year – and the violent police response which left thousands injured, including 445 people blinded by anti-riot weapons, and at least 30 dead.

The five-month uprising was abruptly halted by the pandemic, but the groups’ manifesto warns that state repression in Chile and beyond has only grown worse as police and military enforce lockdowns.

“Police act dangerously,” said Tolokonnikova, the Pussy Riot co-founder who was imprisoned for 18 months in 2012 for staging a protest in the Russian Orthodox cathedral in Moscow. She has also been beaten by Russian police during protests.

“Instead of protecting people and investigating real crimes like rape or domestic violence, police persecute activists and protect those with power,” she added.

Chile remains under strict lockdown, with obligatory quarantines enforced by police and army patrols.

“It’s like living in an atmosphere of war,” said Lea Cáceres, a member of Lastesis alongside Dafne Valdés, Paula Cometa and Sibila Sotomayor. “We have armed police and military on the street simply to generate fear. They don’t help the community.”

The manifesto echoes concerns raised in a recent Amnesty International report condemning governments across the Americas for subjecting civilians to “excessive” repression “and obliging them to obey quarantines in “inhuman conditions”.

In Russia, authorities have been accused of opportunistically using the lockdown to monitor civilians using facial recognition, and infringe on civil liberties.

“The Russian government is using coronavirus as a smokescreen to implement more laws to control citizens,” said Tolokonnikova, adding that she has “a lot in common” with Latin American activism. “We’re both fighting the oppressive system.”

The manifesto calls on civilians to set the institutions of the state on fire – “in a figurative sense”, clarified Valdés. “We need to rebuild from zero,” she said. 

Tolokonnikova approached Lastesis after witnessing the impact of A Rapist In Your Path, whose message about structural misogyny resonated around the world and was picked up by activists in more than 50 countries.

“I was amazed by their power to connect activists all around the world,” said Tolokonnikova, adding that she was “starstruck” when she first got in touch with the Chilean quartet. 

The two groups plan to continue collaborating on politically charged performances once the pandemic subsides. 

“Like Pussy Riot, Lastesis don’t see art as a mirror, they see it as a hammer to shape the world,” said Tolokonnikova. “With global solidarity, we can achieve really big changes.”



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