Feb. 13th, 2014

ajnabieh: Happy woman with broom: FIGHT ALL THE OPPRESSIONS; same woman, dejected, "Fight ALL the oppresssions?" (ALL the oppressions?)
Like most of my fellow Canadians (and a lot of other people, obviously), I'm paying quite a bit of attention to the Winter Olympics. One of the reasons I'm paying attention, though, is because of the political controversy over the Olympics being held in Russia, for a variety of reasons. The most prominent in the eyes of a lot of European and North American observers is the recent law against the "promotion of non-traditional sexual relations," and the blatant homophobia that the Russian government has demonstrated in defending the law against international condemnation. While the law is terrible, there's the faintest whiff of hypocracy in some of the flailing about it--it's not like institutional homophobia is gone in North America, you know. There's also the fact that there are plenty of other reasons to be displeased about locating a major international event in Russia--such as Sochi's historical and contemporary relationship to the ethnic cleansing of the Causacus, or the abysmal ranking of Putin's Russia on most all measures of civil liberties. Many people are boycotting the games, though others don't think that's a good tactic or have pointed out that many of the attempts to boycott are hamhanded at best and that Russian LGBT activists have not called for a boycott.

But what I'm interested in is that the Olympics provide a reason to focus on Russia for activists for civil liberties, civil society, and social justice. Assuming that we don't only care about justice for different others when they provide an opportunity to feel better about ourselves--which we cannot always assume, but let's be generous at the moment--the Sochi Olympics brings all these issues onto the table, and makes them inescapable amid all of the pomp and circumstance and spandex.

So, in that spirit, here are two calls for political action that have been circulated by Amnesty International, which are specific to the Olympic context in Russia, but are also about generalized opposition to the worst parts of the Russian regime. If we care about what's happening in Russia, then we need to take action to help Russians change the situation.

If you've seen other calls for concrete actions that seem supported by reputable human rights networks, or that emerge from Russian civil society, pass them on--I'm happy to update this post with more opportunities for people to turn the Sochi Olympics into a focal moment for social change in Russia.


Yevgeniy Vitishko, environmental activist, detained on "petty hooliganism" charges, likely to prevent him from protesting at the Olympics. Here is more information about him from Amnesty International, and here is an article from the CBC about his previous suspended sentence being converted to three years of jail time. (I'd like to note, with appreciation, that this article is in the Olympics section of CBC's coverage, meaning that they aren't ignoring the political dynamics of what's happening in the rush to be like OMG CURLING.) You can take action to support him via Amnesty International here.

Elena Klimova is a journalist; she runs a website for LGBTI teens, called Children 404. She has been charged with "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations," the infamous law that has drawn so much attention lately. Here is an article about her arrest from the Russian LGBT Network, and here is Amnesty Canada's write-up about her. I haven't seen mainstream media coverage just of her case yet, though. You can take action to support her via Amnesty International here.


ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (Default)
Ajnabieh - The Foreigner

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