Live from NYC Madonna and Pussy Riot shared the stage and spoke with passion about human rights issues at the Amnesty International Bringing Human Rights Home concert in Brooklyn last night.
Madonna told the crowd of thousands that she received death threats for standing up for Pussy Riot, the Russian protest punk band, when two of its members were arrested for hooliganism after staging a protest in a Russian church in 2012.
"The right to be free, to speak our minds, to have an opinion, to love who we want to love, to be who we are - do we have to fight for that?" she said, answering her own question with an expletive.
"I've always considered myself a freedom fighter since the early '80s when I realized I had a voice and I could sing more than songs about being a material girl or feeling like a virgin. And I have definitely paid for and have been punished for speaking my mind and for sticking my neck out for this kind of discrimination. But that's OK."
Madonna introduced Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who were released from prison in December and made their first public appearance in the U.S. on Tuesday.
They spoke through a translator at the "Bringing Human Rights Home" concert, telling the audience they were grateful to be free, but have to continue to fight to save others who are imprisoned.
Alekhina and Tolokonnikova, who wore T-shirts featuring cross designs Wednesday, thanked supporters for sending letters while they were in jail and Amnesty International for its mission to protect human rights.
"Thank you to all of those who are bold enough and who care enough to speak out against injustice and speak the truth," Alekhina said.
The Moscow-based group, which features nearly a dozen female musicians, has been critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin and political conditions in their homeland.
"Russia will be free!" they yelled along with the crowd before they exited the stage.
Amnesty International's "Bringing Human Rights Home" included performances from Flaming Lips and Yoko Ono, Imagine Dragons, Lauryn Hill, Blondie, Cake, the Fray, Bob Geldof, Tegan and Sara, Colbie Caillat and Cold War Kids. It is the organization's first concert since the "Human Rights Concerts" were held from 1986 to 1998, and included U2, Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Peter Gabriel.
"Pussy Riot is free at last! Can i get a Hell Yeah!
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