Executions, Arrests of Members of LGBT Community Reported in Chechnya
Washington, D.C.—In response to reports that at least 27 people were summarily executed without trial in Chechnya this January, Human Rights First today called on the U.S. government to take immediate action to bring a halt to gross human rights violations in the Russian republic. These disturbing allegations come amid new reports that Chechen officials have resumed a campaign of arresting and detaining gay and bisexual men. The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta published the names of 27 people reportedly killed in the January massacre. It is not clear if any were members of the LGBT community, but this horrific episode underscores the appalling human rights environment in Chechnya.
“If these reports are true, the U.S. government must act now.” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “The perpetrators of these atrocious acts must be brought to justice and we need to make sure that detained members of the Chechen LGBT community do not meet the same fate.”
The Russian LGBT Network corroborated the reports, noting that of the names published by Novaya Gazeta, some were members of the LGBT community.
In March, Novaya Gazeta reported on the mass detention of over two hundred men “in connection with their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such.” Journalists reporting on the situation have been threatened by Chechen government officials. In addition to the deaths, survivors reported beatings and torture, as well as being forced to disclose the names of other gay men in the region. Recent reports indicate that new waves of arrests began at the end of June.
Human Rights First has called on the Trump Administration to take action to protect the Chechen LGBT community. Following a letter from Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino, United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley spoke out against the violence and called for an investigation. Aside from Haley’s public call, the administration has taken little action.
In June, the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 531, strongly condemning the detention, torture, and murders of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya. The resolution calls on the House of Representatives to condemn violence and persecution against gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, calls on Chechen officials to cease abduction and torture of individuals based on their real or perceived sexual orientation, and to hold accountable those involved in perpetuating the abuses. In late June, the Senate introduced a companion resolution that currently has 41 co-sponsors.
“The situation in Chechnya is urgent and we remain disappointed by the lack of action from President Trump and Secretary Tillerson,” added Gaylord. “We are pleased to see that Congress continuing to play an active role, hopefully this can send a signal that American leadership is not turning its back on the international LGBT community. However, in light of recent developments, the president and his team must act now to prevent further violence in Chechnya.”