ACTION ALERT: LGBTQ Murder in Chechnya

What’s going on?

There is a large-scale campaign against the Chechen LGBTQ community happening, resulting in the torture and murder of gay Chechens. On April 1, the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta broke the story that Chechen authorities have been arresting and killing gay men. Sources say over 100 men have been detained so far and the names of three men who have been murdered are known. A few days later, Novaya Gazeta published details of tortures that victims have been subjected to, as well as the location of one of the prisons where this is occurring.

In response, the spokesman for Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, stated, “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.” Dmitri Peskov, Kremlin’s spokesman, said, “This is something for law enforcement to deal with. This is not on the Kremlin’s agenda.”

Meanwhile, the pressure for gay people to leave Chechnya – far from a supportive environment even before the mass sweeps and detentions began – has, of course, intensified. The Guardian spoke with a Chechen man who was able to flee. He described how he was lured into a trap, imprisoned for more than ten days, beaten with sticks and tortured with electric shocks before being dropped off with his family, under the assumption they would “take care of things” and kill him. Of course, he left, in the middle of the night without a word, aiming to get as far away as possible.

Since gay men have been lured in and trapped under false pretenses, it is not safe for them to reach out, and many are afraid to respond to help from LGBTQ rights organizations or speak to journalists, fearing it might be a trick. Their options are to flee or keep closeted – if they can.

What can we do?

We are starting an international, multilingual campaign, assisted by Russian activists who will spread the support in the Russian-speaking internet, that has several aims:

  1. Draw attention to these atrocities
  2. Show support for the Chechen LGBTQ community (and, indeed, the LGBTQ community at large)
  3. Demand an international condemnation and that politicians exert pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin
  4. Raise funds for organizations that are assisting gay Chechens

Social media storm

Post photos of yourself with supportive signs, so the Chechen LGBTQ community knows that people love them. Also, post about what is happening on social media and link to this page as a resource to draw attention to these horrors. Russian messages and hashtags will help the message spread within Russia and to the Chechen LGBTQ community. Here are some sample tweets:

English versions –

Chechnya, stop the killing! #LGBTChechnya #ЛГБТЧечня http://thebeautifulwildmag.com/lgbtq-murder-chechnya

Don’t remain indifferent! #LGBTChechnya #ЛГБТЧечня http://thebeautifulwildmag.com/lgbtq-murder-chechnya

#LGBTChechnya #ЛГБТЧечня we support you! [insert photo]

Russian versions –

Чечня не убивай! #ЛГБТЧечня #LGBTChechnya http://thebeautifulwildmag.com/lgbtq-murder-chechnya

Не оставайтесь равнодушными! #ЛГБТЧечня #LGBTChechnya http://thebeautifulwildmag.com/lgbtq-murder-chechnya

#ЛГБТЧечня #LGBTChechnya вас поддерживаем! [фото здесь]

Swedish versions – 

Tjetjenien, sluta döda! #HBTQTjetjenien #ЛГБТЧечня #LGBTChechnya http://thebeautifulwildmag.com/lgbtq-murder-chechnya

Var inte likgiltig! #HBTQTjetjenien #ЛГБТЧечня #LGBTChechnya http://thebeautifulwildmag.com/lgbtq-murder-chechnya

Jag stöder #HBTQTjetjenien #ЛГБТЧечня #LGBTChechnya [infoga foto]

German versions – 

Tschetschenien, stoppt den Mord #LGBTChechnya #ЛГБТЧечня http://thebeautifulwildmag.com/lgbtq-murder-chechnya

Bleibt nicht gleichgültig! #LGBTChechnya #ЛГБТЧечня http://thebeautifulwildmag.com/lgbtq-murder-chechnya

#LGBTChechnya #ЛГБТЧечня wir sind auf Eurer Seite! http://thebeautifulwildmag.com/lgbtq-murder-chechnya [Foto hier]

More languages to come for sample tweets! If you speak a language not represented here and would like to help, please contact us.

Political action

International condemnation of these actions needs to be felt by the Russian government. Ramzan Kadyrov has pledged his support to Putin, since taking power in Chechnya in 2007, and as a result of his fealty, he is given significant leeway, exhibited by his blatant disregard for human rights. Of course, Putin himself is no friend to LGBTQ rights, routinely dismissing and disparaging the community and having signed into law the infamous “gay propaganda law” in 2013. Indeed, LGBTQ rights have been deteriorating in Russia in recent years. These men almost certainly will not change their hearts, but international pressure can – and has – had an impact on Russia previously, though sporadically, leading to release of political prisoners, for example.

For those outside of Russia: send messages to all of your representatives, your United Nations Ambassador, and your Secretary of State (or the equivalent). Below are sample messages.

United States –

For representatives:

Dear [insert name],

I am calling on you to strongly speak out against the detention, torture, and murder of the Chechen LGBTQ community. This brutal campaign has intensified and gay men are deliberately been lured in and tortured. At least one hundred people have been imprisoned so far. Russian leadership has signaled that this is not on their agenda. Targeted murder and persecution of innocent people always needs to be on leaders’ agendas and that is why I am calling on you to speak out about this atrocious situation and do everything in your power to support Congress, the U.S. State Department, and the President in exerting pressure on the Russian government to finally take action and stop this slaughter.

Sincerely,

[Name]

Find your representatives here.

Tweet: @[insert rep] condemn gay purges in Chechnya! #LGBTChechnya #ЛГБТЧечня

For United Nations Ambassador:

Dear Ambassador Haley,

I am calling on you to strongly speak out against the detention, torture, and murder of the Chechen LGBTQ community. This brutal campaign has intensified and gay men are deliberately been lured in and tortured. At least one hundred people have been imprisoned so far. Russian leadership has signaled that this is not on their agenda. Targeted murder and persecution of innocent people always needs to be on leaders’ agendas and that is why I am calling on you to speak out about this atrocious situation and do everything in your power to exert pressure on the Russian government to finally take action and stop this slaughter. Please work within the United Nations to pass a resolution condemning this atrocity.

Sincerely,

[Name]

Contact Ambassador Haley here.

Tweet: Condemn gay purges in Chechnya! UN resolution! @nikkihaley @USUN #LGBTChechnya #ЛГБТЧечня

Sweden –

Till politiker:

Hej [infoga politikerns namn]!

Jag vill härmed uppmana dig att i starka ordalag fördöma interneringen och tortyren av, samt morden på HBTQ-personer i Tjetjenien. Hittills har mer än hundra människor fängslats. Rysslands ledning har signalerat att detta inte finns på deras agenda. Att oskyldiga människor förföljs och mördas borde emellertid alltid finnas på nationsledares agenda. Jag uppmanar dig därför att höja din röst i kritik mot det som nu pågår i Tjetjenien och att arbeta för att ditt parti och den svenska regeringen ska utöva påtryckningar på den ryska ledningen att vidta åtgärder för att stoppa övergreppen som begås mot HBTQ-personer i Tjetjenien.

Vänliga hälsningar,

[Infoga namn]

Tweet: @[infoga politiker], fördöm övergreppen mot HBTQ-personer i Tjetjenien! #HBTQTjetjenien #LGBTChechnya #ЛГБТЧечня

Till Sveriges FN-ambassadör:

Hej Olof Skoog!

Jag vill härmed uppmana dig att i starka ordalag fördöma interneringen och tortyren av, samt morden på HBTQ-personer i Tjetjenien. Hittills har mer än hundra människor fängslats. Rysslands ledning har signalerat att detta inte finns på deras agenda. Att oskyldiga människor förföljs och mördas borde emellertid alltid finnas på nationsledares agenda. Jag uppmanar dig därför att höja din röst i kritik mot det som nu pågår i Tjetjenien och att göra allt som står i din lagliga makt för att förmå den ryska ledningen att vidta åtgärder för att stoppa övergreppen som begås mot HBTQ-personer i Tjetjenien. Slutligen vill jag be dig att aktivt arbeta för att FN ska fördöma övergreppen som begås mot HBTQ-personer i Tjetjenien.

Vänliga hälsningar,

[Infoga namn]

Tweet: @SwedenUN @OlofBSkoog, fördöm övergreppen mot HBTQ-personer i Tjetjenien! #HBTQTjetjenien #LGBTChechnya #ЛГБТЧечня

More country-specific information to come! If you would like to help with this, please contact us.

Donate

If you are able to financially support the LGBTQ community in Chechnya, you may well be saving a life. People are fleeing the region right now, very often with absolutely no support from family or friends and are venturing into the unknown.

All Out is collecting funds to support the emergency evacuation of gay men from Chechnya. They are doing this in conjunction with the Russian LGBT Network. If you are not Russian, donate through All Out since foreign donations can cause problems for Russian NGOs.

In conclusion

Take these actions, and more! Share this post with its resources so word spreads. We hope we can simultaneously demonstrate an international outpouring of love and support for the Chechen LGBTQ community while at the same time exerting political pressure that ultimately forces a halt to the Chechen authorities’ murderous campaign. Your donations will help save lives as gay Chechens escape. If you have other ideas about actions to take, share those too!

This post will be updated with additional resources as they are available.

Leah

Leah

Leah tries to be a functioning adult but, eh, that's not really her goal in life. Instead she cultivates her areas of expertise: traveling randomly, cultivating progressive moral outrage, obsessing over Finland, obsessing over other locales, stepping into alternate book universes, and dancing so hard when it all becomes too much.
Leah