Following Dubious Results in Chechnya, Russian Government Urged to Undertake Legitimate Investigation
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today condemned the Russian government’s claim that it has concluded its investigation of human rights abuses in Chechnya and found no evidence of mass detention and torture of gay and bisexual men, and called for a new inquiry that will take the crisis seriously. The Russian Embassy in Israel issued a letter saying that the Chechen Human Rights Council—a government aligned human rights body in the republic—and the Russian government found that “there are no victims of persecution, threats or violence,” despite well-documented reports of these human rights abuses. As the atrocity continues, Human Rights First calls on the United States to press Russia to instigate a legitimate investigation.
Reports of the investigation’s conclusion and results were reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on May 11, which published the letter from the Russian embassy to Israel, went on to report that Chechen law enforcement has not received any complaints of abuses.
“This so-called investigation is clearly a sham. The Russian government claims that there is no evidence of abuses in Chechnya. Try telling that to the gay and bisexual men fleeing the republic and seeking asylum elsewhere. Try telling that to those who mourn the three men murdered during this crisis,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “If the authorities won’t take this matter seriously, then the international community must; we must demand the release of these men and accountability for those that perpetrated these terrible crimes.”
In March, independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported on the mass detention of over one hundred men “in connection with their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such.” During the crackdown at least three men have been killed. Journalists reporting on the situation have been threatened by Chechen government officials and clerics. In addition to the deaths, survivors reported beatings and torture, as well as being forced to disclose the names of other suspected gay men in the region. As the crisis continues, LGBT organizations on the ground are evacuating victims from the country.
On Wednesday, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) called on the Departments of State and Homeland Security to explore “possible avenues for urgently admitting these persecuted LGBT individuals to the United States, preferably via humanitarian parole or expedited refugee processing.”
Throughout the ongoing crisis, Russian activists have been detained while advocating an investigation. Five activists were arrested in Moscow on Thursday for attempting to submit a petition calling for action.
Human Rights First continues to urge the State Department to provide protection and assistance to gay men fleeing the violence, and call on President Trump to demand an end to the brutal persecution. United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and the State Department have spoken out against the violence.