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No Mention Of Chechen Purge At Trump Putin Helsinki Summit

Image Credit: Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign used the Helsinki Summit between President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin on Monday 16th July to pressure both leaders to stop the human rights abuses against suspected gay and bisexual men in Chechnya.

A message was projected onto a wall at the Presidential Palace where the summit was held.

The scrolling messages read:

Trump and Putin: Stop the Crimes Against Humanity in Chechnya

Investigate LGBTQ Persecution in Chechnya. Bring the Perpetrators to Justice The Whole World is Watching Silence is Deadly #EyesOnChechnya

In May, Russia’s acting Justice Minister Alexander Konavalov told the UN Human Rights Council that Russia had carried out a thorough investigation and found that there was no gay purge in Chechnya because no LGBT people exist in the country. Over the past 15 months, Trump has resolutely ignored the human rights abuses in Chechnya and has refused to publicly condemn the attacks. There was no mention of human rights abuses in the press conference after the meetings between the two leaders on Monday.

At a rally in Helsinki on Sunday, HRC Global Director Ty Cobb told the crowd “Trump has unconscionably turned a blind eye to some of the worst anti-LGBTQ atrocities in a generation, including monstrous attacks on gay and bisexual men in Chechnya."

“HRC is here in Helsinki to demand Donald Trump end his deafening silence, publicly condemn these Chechen crimes against humanity, and call on Putin to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Igor Kochetkov, chair of the Russian LGBT Network, said "We are grateful to all people and organizations who support our work in Chechnya. International attention is essential to putting pressure on Russian authorities to take action."

"Russian authorities deny even the mere existence of LGBT people in Chechnya, but with continued international pressure, we aim to stop the persecution, torture and killing of LGBT people in Chechnya, and ensure that those responsible for these crimes against humanity are brought to justice."

On April 1 last year, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that Chechen police and security services had started rounding up presumed gay and bisexual men in February 2017, starving, torturing and humiliating them, shaming their relatives, and encouraging family honor killings. Human Rights Watch corroborated the information based on their own sources.

On April 3 this year, Novaya Gazeta journalist Elena Milashina and Russian LGBT Network’s Igor Kochetkov held a press conference in Moscow where they gave details of events since the purge.

The Russian LGBT Network evacuated 114 Chechens from the region, 92 of whom have been safely helped out of Russia. 41 people were illegally detained and faced torture and severe beatings. 14 people contacted the Russian LGBT Network because they were threatened by the law enforcement officials.

Another 7 people contacted the Network because people they knew were detained and they expected to be next. A further 7 people were threatened by relatives who were going to execute them. Another 35 people are the close relatives of the victims and fear it’s too dangerous for them to stay in Chechnya.

Three of the people evacuated from Chechnya were kidnapped by their relatives and returned to Chechnya against their will, with at least one of them now dead. Due to different reasons, 5 more people returned to Chechnya and one of them is now dead.

The Russian LGBT Network was contacted by 8 people from the Caucasian Republic being persecuted by Chechen law enforcement agencies because of their contacts with Chechens.

Visit the Human Rights Campaign #EyesOnChechnya webpage.

#ChechenAntiGayPurge #VladimirPutin #DonaldTrump #HelsinkiSummit #HumanRightsCampaign