UK Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, called on Russian authorities to end a violent crackdown on LGBTI people in Chechnya.
Hunt joins calls for action worldwide to halt violence after reports of the anti-gay purge in the region intensifying.
Two men have died from extreme torture and about 40 more people were detained on suspicion of being gay since December, according to the Russian LGBT Network.
‘If this is true, it is totally unacceptable & Russian authorities must not only stop this from happening but hold those responsible to account’ Hunt wrote on Twitter.
Despite global outrage since news broke of Chechen authorities detaining gay and bisexual men in concentration camps in April 2017, Russia has so far avoided accountability.
Leading rights groups Amnesty International (AI) said it was ‘horrified’ about the ’spine-chilling’ news.
‘With lives in jeopardy, there is an urgent need for an international response to protect gay and lesbian people in Chechnya’ said Marie Struthers of AI.
What’s more, Pride in London said it was ‘extremely concerned and saddened’. As one of the UK’s largest LGBTI events, it encouraged Twitter users to ‘remind the world to stand up for #loveislove’.
Stonewall UK called on the government to offer LGBTI torture survivors sanctuary in the UK. ‘We are calling for the Russian authorities to end this persecution immediately and bring the perpetrators to justice’ the statement also said.
Prominent Canadian politician Jagmeet Singh also tweeted his concern.
This is horrific. The state-sanctioned targeting & killing of members of the LGBT community in Chechnya must be met with unequivocal condemnation and a call for this to end immediately. Those responsible must be held accountable. https://t.co/Ezm302zsW2
— Jagmeet Singh (@theJagmeetSingh) January 14, 2019
What is happening in Chechnya?
A 2018 report confirmed systematic mass detentions, secret prisons, and torture of LGBTI citizens in the Muslim-majority region of Russia.
One gay man reported authorities torturing him in a homemade electric chair. He then had to give up names of other LGBTI people he knew.
Chechnya president Ramzan Kadyrov vowed to kill all gay men. He said parents of LGBTI children should kill them to remove the shame from their family.
The arrest of group moderator on Russian social network VKontakte (VK) may have sparked this latest purge. Gay and bisexual men in the area use VK to contact one another.
The Russian LGBT Network has been scrambling to evacuate people from Chechnya.
Activists have so far evacuated about 150 people from Chechnya. But, there are 130 more evacuated Chechens in Russia who need assistance in leaving the region altogether.
The Network has asked for people in Chechnya needing assistance to email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 8 (800) 555-73-74.
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Author: Rik Glauert