(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Steven W. Hawkins, Amnesty International USA's new executive director, issued the following statement to mark the arrival of the Olympic torch in Moscow today ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in February 2014. Today is also President Vladimir Putin’s 61st birthday.
'Amnesty International USA's birthday wish to President Putin is: do not blow out the flame of freedom. The vibrant Olympic celebrations will not obscure the Russian government's vicious assaults on the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.
'Since Vladimir Putin's return to the presidency in May 2012, punk musicians cannot sing about repression in Russia, LGBTI individuals cannot organize a Pride parade or wear a rainbow ribbon without risking arrests or beatings by police, and peaceful protestors are brutally beaten and detained for expressing their political opposition.
'As the Olympic torch arrives at the stadium celebrating athletic competition, it should also shine a light on Russia's failure to safeguard the dignity and rights of all its people.
'The ruthless suppression of human rights and the rule of law in Russia are incompatible with the spirit of the Olympics Games and should be protested.'
Take action by sending President Putin a birthday card.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.