Former Soviet dissident, artist, and activist Oleg Atbashian has been arrested, jailed, and charged with a felony for a first amendment-protected flier and poster campaign on the George Mason University campus near Washington, D.C. protesting international Islamic terrorism.
Atbashian, who authored the book Shakedown Socialism, and his partner were arrested while putting up posters and charged with felony destruction of property because their posters were apparently “super-glued” and impossible to remove.
Atbashian, who spoke to GotNews, insists this is ludicrous and that his posters and fliers were easily removable, as is standard for any poster or sticker campaign. Atbashian questions whether his arrest, imprisonment, and charge, for which he faces up to 5 years in prison, were politically motivated:
“Progressivism and its main tool, political correctness, are absurd and dehumanizing not just in theory; its physical implementation is also rather dreadful and painful, as I personally experienced yesterday, being turned from an activist artist into inmate #2076524 in Fairfax County jail, with aching bruises on my wrists from excessively tight handcuffs, and the prospect of spending five years in prison as a convicted felon.”
He says the George Mason University (GMU) police officers who arrested and jailed him treated him harshly and with excessive force, and did not read him his Miranda Rights.
Atbashian, who used to be an activist in the communist Soviet Union, was running a campaign to raise awareness of the Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) anti-Semitism and well-documented ties to Islamic terrorist group Hamas. George Mason University was hosting the SJP’s national conference at the time.
Atbashian says that he was not arrested or jailed even when he was collecting signatures in support of Nobel Prize-winning Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov in Communist Russia, though he was “screamed at, lectured, and threatened” by KGB agents and Communist functionaries.
Still, the Soviets never arrested or imprisoned him. Unlike at George Mason University.
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Atbashian’s unjust and harsh treatment at the hands of GMU police was fit for violent extremists, not peaceful artists putting up posters.
Atbashian says George Mason University has already planted a story with the local news falsely claiming that he and his partner used “industrial glue.” He says he can easily debunk that claim:
“It didn’t matter that we never used permanent glue, or that there could be other volunteers on campus who posted the stickers they could have downloaded online. Our wallpaper paste was made of wheat and water; we only used it on three large posters, which could be easily removed with water and would be washed off by the first rain.
The rest were stickers, printed on regular self-adhesive paper found in any office store. They, too, could be easily removed with a tissue soaked in Goo Gone, a common household cleaner found in any dollar store. We even offered to remove any posters and stickers for them, then catch our flights in the morning and never bother them again. But the officers weren’t interested in that. They seemed to have a rather inflexible phantom image of us as dangerous felons and “right-wing extremists” who belonged in jail.”
Atbashian was released on $8000 bail paid for by his wife and suffered other financial damages at the hands of the GMU police. He will be in court next year to defend himself. Atbashian says:
“Our posters contained a hashtag, #StopCampusSupport4Terrorism. The just and moral choice here is clear to any decent human being. But when political correctness comes into play, morality becomes blurry and justice switches the polarity. As a result, terrorist supporters ended up having a safe space and vigorous protection, while their non-violent opponents were subjected to brutal force, thrown in jail, and were robbed blind by the system.”
Oleg Atbashian’s arrest and imprisonment marks a disturbing trend towards censorship in academia.
You can let George Mason University know what you think about their practice of persecuting political dissidents and activists by calling them at (703) 993-1000 or by calling or e-mailing one of their PR people listed here.
Stay tuned for more.
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