We Demand Justice for LGBTIQA+ people in Chechnya!
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Dear Mr. President, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Schumer
We are writing to you on behalf of the RUSA LGBT – Russian Speaking American LGBTIQA+ Association and a Queer action group “VOICES4_”.
On February 4th, 2021, the Chechen authorities abducted two gay men in Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia. These men were recently rescued by the Russian LGBT Network because they were victims of the purges that have been taking place in the Republic of Chechnya since 2016.
According to our sources, they are now being held in Chechnya. They face fictitious charges of anti-government activities and, possibly, physical harm because they are direct witnesses and victims of queer genocide in Chechnya, which is sanctioned by the leader of the Republic Ramzan Kadyrov.
Since 2017, Russian activists have rescued over 300 LGBTIQA+ individuals who have endured persecution, humiliation, violence, and abuse in Chechnya. The testimonies of survivors are heartbreaking and horrifying. What is happening is a humanitarian crisis that can, based on both available evidence and existing international laws, be described as “genocide”.
Survivors described the Chechen authorities setting up “concentration camps” in Groznyy and surrounding areas. People endure torture, including electrocution, rape, hard labor, and constant beatings. Survivors report that a few prisoners have been killed by law enforcement on the spot, some by their relatives who “could not bear the shame” (“honor killing”); some had taken their own lives because they were broken in body and spirit.
The Russian LGBT Network and the Moscow Community Center have been working tirelessly to rescue LGBTIQA+ individuals from Chechnya after transferring them to safe houses in other parts of Russia, in many cases, taking them to Europe (but not the United States) as refugees.
Even though the Russian government has consistently denied any allegations of LGBTIQ+ purges in Chechnya as a “Western hoax”, LGBTIQA+ individuals in Chechnya continue to disappear without a trace.
RUSA LGBT and Voice4 have been actively mounting political campaigns to end the purges in Chechnya. We are in contact with our colleagues in both Russia and Europe, who provide us with updates regularly. We have been in touch with survivors who have shared their stories with us.
The RUSA LGBT and Voices4_ urge you to take action by putting pressure on the Russian Government. We call on you to issue an emergency declaration and publicly condemn this gross violation of human rights when two individuals face sure death at the hands of the Russian government. The kidnapping of these two individuals should be thoroughly investigated. The international community should demand an immediate release of these young men.
RUSA LGBT and VOICES4_ also ask the Biden Administration and the U.S. Congress to allow LGBTIQA+ individuals from Chechnya, who managed to escape, to enter the U.S.
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