"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."

These words were not written by a suffraget in the early 1900s or by a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay, but by Pussy Riot band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in The Guardian today.

Alongside bandmate Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda was jailed for 24 months last year for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" after Pussy Riot performed in Moscow's largest cathedral last February. Maria Alyokhina has already suffered through her own 11-day hunger strike back in May of this year after authorities prevented her from appearing in her own parole hearing.

The pair are currently being held in Penal Colony No. 14, a Soviet-style prison camp built in the 1920s. According to the letter, the prisoners are treated harshly, with 14 hours of work per day, one day off every six weeks and fed a poor diet of rotten potatoes, stale bread and watered-down milk.

Nadezhda also claims that prisoners are forced to submit paperwork to their superiors asking for more work each week. This can sometimes mean prisoners are faced with only four hours of sleep per night.

"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."

The full letter is available to read at The Guardian.

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