Eastern Coalition for LGBT Equality is deeply concerned with the grave human rights violations of the LGBT people in Chechnya. We are also concerned by the lack of response from authorities and threats towards journalists and human rights defenders who at the cost of personal risk gathered evidence and informed the world about the atrocities taking place in the Republic of Chechnya, Russian Federation.
On April 1, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta published an article highlighting the recent honor killings, mass detentions and torture of (perceived ) gay men in Chechnya. The newspaper reported 3 killings according to the sources, but there is reason to suspect that the number of victims is higher. Later in the week, the Russian LGBT Network stated that they started receiving cries for help from the Chechen gay community as early as March 29th, after which a hotline was established to gather evidence and help those under risk.
Since the initial reports were published, more evidence has surfaced. We, at the moment know that alongside with three men who were reported dead, over a hundred men suspected of being gay are being abducted, tortured and even killed in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya according to credible sources inside the country. We also know that there are at least two sites of mass detention, in which the gay men are subjected to especially inhumane and violent treatment.
Despite all the evidence gathered by the journalists and human rights defenders and numerous calls to action locally and internationally, the authorities both in Russia and in Republic of Chechnya continue to deny the claims and refuse to investigate. Moreover, it was reported that in order to discuss the situation on April 3rd an assembly of Chechen highest religious authorities took place. Religious and political authorities accused Novaya Gazeta of “spreading lies”. The resolution adopted as a result of this assembly reads as follows: “There was an insult to the centuries-old foundations of Chechen society, and to the dignity of Chechen men, as well as to our faith. Thus we promise that retribution will overtake the true instigators, wherever and by whomever they are, without a statute of limitations.”
We, the representatives of LGBT/I organizations in Eastern Europe and South Caucasus, call on:
– The Russian authorities to immediately investigate these atrocious crimes; bring to justice all those responsible for the arrests, torture, and killings of gay men in Chechnya; and ensure due investigation of threats toward journalists and human rights defenders as well as ensure their safety and protection from any persecution and violence;
– The international organizations, diplomatic missions and UN and EU structures with human rights portfolio to 1) keep applying pressure on the Russian authorities to step in, put a stop to the atrocities taking place in the republic of Chechnya and efficiently investigate both the human rights violations and killings of gay men and the threats towards journalists and human rights defenders who work to inform the world about the situation and help the victims and potential victims; 2) to be in touch with the human rights organizations working on the evacuation of the victims and potential victims from the North Caucasus region and provide them with needed resources;
– Civil society and LGBTI communities to continue spreading the information about the rights violations in the community, and make it known that in case someone has information about victims or potential victims of hate crimes from Republic of Chechnya or North Caucasus in general, address the following hotline established by the Russian LGBT Network: firstname.lastname@example.org or 8 800 555 73 74.