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International condemnations against Chechnya have increased in the past week amidst reports of anti-gay kidnappings and torture.
1. After two weeks of silence the Trump Administration finally speaks out
After two weeks of silence from the Trump Adminstration, America’s United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley released a statement on Monday saying that America is “disturbed” by the reports. Haley’s statement continued:
“If true, this violation of human rights cannot be ignored…. Chechen authorities must immediately investigate these allegations, hold anyone involved accountable, and take steps to prevent future abuses.
We are against all forms of discrimination, including against people based on sexual orientation. When left unchecked, discrimination and human rights abuses can lead to destabilization and conflict.”
2. More gay Chechens are sharing their horror stories with media outlets
Haley’s statement came two days before CNN released interviews with anonymous Chechen refugees who recounted the abuse they faced at the hands of government agents. The interview video is below:
One of the men said, “My car got stopped at a Chechen police checkpoint and they asked me for my documents. They looked at them and said, ‘We are taking you.’” The second interviewee said:
They started beating me with their fists and feet. They wanted to get names of my gay friends from me. Then, they tied wires to my hands and put metal clippers in my ears to electrocute me. They’ve got special equipment which is very powerful. When they shock you, you jump high above the ground.
Their reports echo other testimonies from gay Chechen refugees shared by The Guardian last Thursday. These men were blackmailed by government officials, threatened by their families and harassed by police after being outed by former lovers. They say they were thrown into prison-like detention centers, given only 4 hours of sleep a night and repeatedly insulted and beaten by guards and other gay men acting under duress.
3. Chechnya urges action against journalists reporting these “lies and slander”
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov (a man who has multiple videos of himself working out and who is very affectionate with other men) has called the reports a “massive information attack” conducted by international organizations.
Novaya Gazeta, the paper that first reported the kidnappings and torture, said that Chechen clergy leaders and public figures passed a resolution calling the reports “absolute lies and slander” and urging “every sensible person to fight the spread of such baseness and provocation in all possible ways,” adding later that these ways should be “lawful.”
Threats against the Novaya Gazeta reporter who first reported the country’s anti-gay abuses, Elena Milashina, have driven her to flee her Moscow home. The entire newspaper staff has received threats of violence as well. itself
4. Russia has done nothing to address the issue
Furthermore, Novaya Gazeta has called out Russia’s Investigative Committee (ICR) for failing to look into the possible human rights abuses, stating that the law requires the ICR to respond to such reports within 10 days. Thus far, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has reported no confirmation of anti-gay violence, though considering Russia’s own laws against so-called LGBTQ propaganda, one wonders how closely they’re investigating.
5. A Canadian LGBTQ group is trying to help gay Chechens escape
A Canadian human rights organization called the Rainbow Railroad (an LGBTQ take on the slavery-era Underground Railroad) has said that they’re working with the Russian LGBT Network to help secure emergency visas to help gay Chechen flee the country.
(Featured image by Bliznetsov via iStock)