Two rapporteurs condemn the latest alleged murder, torture and illegal detention of LGBTI persons in Chechnya

Frank Schwabe (SOC, Germany), rapporteur on the continuing need to restore human rights and the rule of law in the North Caucasus region, and Piet De Bruyn (NR, Belgium), General Rapporteur on the rights of LGBTI people and former rapporteur on persecution of LGBTI people in the Chechen Republic (Russian Federation), today condemned the recent alleged attacks on the LGBTI community in Chechnya, during which two people were reportedly tortured to death and around forty detained by the authorities.

“Since the first such allegations came to light in 2017, the Assembly has called on the authorities to investigate the persecution of LGBTI people in the Chechen Republic, bring to justice those responsible and ensure the safety of victims,” said Mr De Bruyn. “As stated in Resolution 2230 (2018), the Assembly condemns in the strongest terms all forms of persecution, hate speech, discrimination and harassment, on any grounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity,” he underlined.

“These latest outrages underline the Chechen authorities’ contempt for even the most basic human rights and illustrate the barbaric lawlessness of their rule,” added Mr Schwabe. “The Russian federal authorities must take immediate, effective action to meet their constitutional and international obligations to secure the right to life, the prohibition on torture, the right to liberty and security and the right to an effective remedy, without discrimination on any ground, throughout the national territory. They must put an end to the impunity of the Kadyrov regime,” he concluded.

Copyright www.assembly.coe.int

New details emerge about what one source calls an anti-LGBTQ ‘genocide’ LGBTQ community reports dozens imprisoned and up to 20 killed in Chechnya within past month

On Friday, January 11, Novaya Gazeta reported that persecution of individuals thought to be LGBTQ has drastically increased since late December in the Russian republic of Chechnya. Since then, Meduza has received additional information from the Russian LGBT Network, online groups for LGBTQ residents of the Caucasus, and a young man who has demonstrated close ties with the LGBTQ community in the North Caucasus. This report describes what makes this moment different from the attacks on LGBTQ people that have been ongoing for years both in Chechnya and in Russia more broadly.

Meduza has received information from the Russian LGBT Network as well as named and anonymous sources within the Russian LGBTQ community describing escalating efforts among Chechen police to hunt down, illegally arrest, and torture Chechens who are suspected of having LGBTQ identities. While advocates have reported similar systems of persecution for two years, a sharp increase in illegal arrests allegedly began less than one month ago, in late December 2018.

Aleksandr Mironov is a young man who says he fled North Ossetia, another region in the North Caucasus, after experiencing persecution because he is gay. He asked that his surname be changed to protect the safety of his relatives but said he provided his real first name, adding, “everything I had to lose, I have already lost.” Mironov currently lives in France but has maintained contact with a number of Chechen friends. He described living in Moscow for a period of time with a group of gay men who had also escaped Chechnya. He told Meduza that all of the information he provided came directly from people who had witnessed the current crisis in Chechnya firsthand. Mironov has provided Meduza with images that verify his location and some of his identifying information. Efforts to verify his story while protecting his safety are ongoing, and Mironov has been put in contact with representatives of the Russian LGBT Network.

Mironov’s sources told him that within the past month, Chechen police have illegally arrested approximately 40 people, including both men and women, based on suspicions about their sexual orientation. The LGBT Network, which for almost two years has led the evacuation effort to move targeted individuals living in Russia’s North Caucasus to safety, confirmed this number in a January 14 press release. However, while the LGBT Network received word of at least two people who died in the course of being tortured, Mironov said he puts the number of those killed at 10 to 20, saying that one of his friends personally saw more than two bodies being carried away from the location where he was held. A source within the LGBT Network wrote to Meduza, “I would not be surprised if Aleksandr is correct.” Mironov told Meduza that the present crisis is “a genocide” and that he chose to speak out because his friends and his community are finding themselves in an increasingly drastic situation. News about the crisis began to break on Friday, and the young man said he fears the first response among Chechen authorities will be to increase the rate of arrests and killings.

The Russian LGBT Network reported that the latest wave of illegal arrests appears to have begun when the administrator of an LGBTQ group on the social media site VKontakte was captured in December. Igor Kochetkov, the LGBT Network’s program director, wrote in a press release that “it is the staff of [Chechen] security agencies that is carrying out these arrests, and the victims are being held illegally in [the town of] Argun. The local police are doing everything possible to prevent them from leaving the republic or receiving legal protection as a result. Police are confiscating their identifying documents, threatening to charge them and their relatives with fabricated crimes, and forcing them to sign forms that are otherwise entirely blank.”

Mironov confirmed that victims are being tortured in Argun. It has been reported for more than a year that a former police building there was refitted to house secret torture chambers for men and women suspected of being LGBTQ. Mironov and other sources also said that finding concrete evidence on individual cases is extremely difficult because police confiscate cell phones and any other means of communication a victim may have. Victims can typically resume contact with the outside world only if they are released from custody.

When asked to describe what makes the present wave of attacks different from ongoing persecution, Mironov said the recent escalation has made him call the events in Chechnya a “genocide.” He explained, “This is a genocide based on religion. In fact, religion is only a smokescreen here. They are hiding behind Islam and Sharia law to stir up chaos illegally.” He added that “according to Sharia law, a person who has blood on his hands” should be the first person to be blamed. Mironov believes that “if this is left the way it is, then there will be even more victims.”

As Meduza reported on Friday, news of increasing persecution has emerged amid a call from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to investigate the wave of torture and killings that hit Chechnya in 2017. Like this purge, the previous spike in persecution was first reported by Novaya Gazeta. The author of the OSCE’s report, Dr. Wolfgang Benedek, recommended that the OSCE “open an inquiry into the actions of the government of the Chechen Republic toward LGBTI people” as well as a criminal case connected to the persecution of Maksim Lapunov, who had then been the only victim of the purges to publicly identify himself. The LGBT Network reported in their press release that Benedek was refused entry to the Russian Federation and that Russian authorities have still failed to conduct any meaningful investigation of the “systemic persecution” that began nearly two years ago.

Anonymous members of social media groups dedicated to the LGBTQ community in the Caucasus have confirmed and spread information about the recent increase in police attacks. Many of them are urging LGBTQ people in affected areas to delete any information from their devices that might reveal their sexual orientation, change their phone numbers, and destroy their devices if possible. The posts in question all urge potential victims to leave Chechnya and the North Caucasus as soon as possible. For its part, the Russian LGBT Network has vowed to continue relocating people who now find themselves in ever increasing danger. Since anti-LGBTQ persecution in Chechnya took on a new, systemic nature in 2017, the organization has relocated approximately 150 people, more than 130 of whom were able to leave Russia altogether.

Copyright www.meduza.io

Chechnya has reportedly launched a new ‘gay purge’

Chechnya has reportedly launched another ‘gay purge’, nearly two years after Russian newspaper Novaya Gazetta broke the story that up to 26 men had been killed in the country.
Yesterday, a warning aimed at the queer community appeared on social media, urging them all to flee the southern Russian region.

“We ask anyone still free to take this message seriously and leave the republic as soon as is possible,” read the statement.

Although the message was vague, activists have come to the conclusion that LGBTQ people in Chechnya are once again being hunted by the authorities.

Igor Kochetkov, head of the LGBT Network, told The Independent that the group has “credible information of a new crackdown”, and will be providing a statement on the matter this Monday.

Last year, chilling reports of young gay men being murdered by their own family members came to fruition, as authorities told parents to kill them – or they’ll do it themselves.

A 17-year-old male was reportedly murdered by his own uncle, after being pushed from his 9th floor balcony.

The Kremlin and Chechen government have both repeatedly denied allegations that gay men are being detained and tortured in the region, but Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov has never kept it a secret that he is staunchly anti-LGBTQ.

Kadyrov publicly declared that he wanted all LGBT+ people in the country to be eliminated by May 26 2018, which marked the start of Muslim holiday, Ramadan.

He has maintained that all of the reports were false because in Chechnya, “we don’t have these kinds of people here.”

A 30-year-old man named Ruslan came forward to speak of his experience during the anti-gay purge, and revealed that he was outed to his family when his daughter-in-law discovered text messages he had sent his boyfriend on his phone.

His own family swiftly took away his passport and phone, and locked him in his room for a month.

“In Chechnya there was a big cleansing of gays. People working for Kadyrov (Chechnya’s leader) would target one (gay) person and through blackmail and beating would force him to surrender others,” Ruslan told BBC Russian.

“Some were caught, taken to the cellars, beaten violently, others were not found. Relatives sometimes did not even look for them, as they wanted to wash away the shame.”

Ruslan finally managed to escape his family home, borrowed a phone from a passerby to call his boyfriend, and made it to Moscow.

These accounts of the persecution LGBTQ people face in Chechnya comes as the Human Rights Campaign give repeated calls for Donald Trump to publicly condemned the Russian Republic’s actions.

They want the US president to “end his deafening silence” on ongoing crimes against people suspected of being LGBTQ in the country.

“These atrocities constitute crimes against humanity…None of the perpetrators have been brought to justice,” they put in a letter to the White House.

“Russia has refused to launch an investigation, and those who carried out these abuses face no repercussions for their actions.

“You must condemn these crimes against humanity and call on Russia to conduct an investigation and hold the perpetrators accountable.”

Copyright www.gaytimes.co.uk

Presentation of the documentary dance film #WAITINGFORCOLOR


In Bulgaria, on January 12, 2019, at 19:00 (26, 6-ti Septemvri str., Sofia, Bulgaria), there will be a presentation of the documentary dance film #WAITINGFORCOLOR on the ongoing pursuit of LGBTQ + in Chechnya, in Armenia and in Bulgaria, in partnership with the Single Step Bulgaria and Gallery 2.0 Foundation. If you are in Sofia, join Kosta Karakashyan and Radoslav Stoyanov from the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, we will discuss the rights of LGBTQ + in Bulgaria, Chechnya and Western Europe, as well as the opportunity to donate to refugees from LGBTQ + seeking asylum in the Netherlands with LGBT World Beside.

For the first time in eight years, the For Human Rights Movement did not receive a presidential grant.

For the first time in eight years, the For Human Rights Movement did not receive a presidential grant. The head of the human rights organization Lev Ponomarev informed about this on the air of “Echo of Moscow”.

“I was left without presidential grants for 2019,” said Ponomarev in the A-Team program. According to him, the grant was not issued because of the “bad application” and low expert ratings.

Ponomarev admitted that the organization could stop working: “In fact, the situation is such that it is necessary to stop.” The human rights activist noted that private investors had promised to help the movement. The organization does not receive foreign funding in order not to fall under the law on “foreign agents,” he added.

Copyright www.meduza.io