You may have heard the news coming out of Chechnya, part of the Russian Federation, where police are kidnapping gay men (and those they perceive to be gay) and taking them to camps for torture. Several state-sanctioned murders have also been reported.
Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens is a group of people raising money for organizations working directly with gay men and other persecuted LGBT people in Chechnya and the northern Caucasus. We do this through direct donations, donating royalties to these charitable organizations, and an online auction to be held May 5–13.
QRI author Jodi Payne wrote a great guest post about what’s going on, and why she got involved:
Don’t know that name? Google it. The head of the Chechen Republic has a history of violence and human rights violations that go back more than a decade. Not only dies he inspire, incite and order others to violence, but he has personally participated in many of these incidents of killings and torture himself.
On April 1, I read a New York Times article reporting that gay men were simply disappearing in Chechnya. That authorities there were rounding up gay men and men suspected of being gay, and that one of the ways they were doing this was by doing things like posing as gay themselves online to trap people.*
Shortly thereafter came the reports of torture camps and detention centers.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
In that same article, a spokesman for Kadyrov denies the allegations calling such actions impossible:
You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic. If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.*
Over the next week, and in the weeks since, I’ve read article after article and blog post after blog post about this. I’ve seen aid organizations speak out about it. Several organizations are now doing whatever they can to assist these men. But do you know what I haven’t seen?
There hasn’t been a statement from the Whitehouse. Not one word. Why hasn’t Trump spoken out against Kadyrov? That’s a rhetorical question, of course, we all know why – but how can our government remain silent in the face of these horrific events?
Wait: Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations, apparently did speak out against what she called “discrimination” and called upon the Chechen authorities to investigate the allegations.
If true, this violation of human rights cannot be ignored – Chechen authorities must immediately investigate these allegations, hold anyone involved accountable, and take steps to prevent future abuses.**
That’s not likely, since the “authorities” themselves are carrying out these atrocities. The inaction and doublespeak is nothing short of unconscionable.
And now? Kadyrov has called for the “elimination” of the gay community by the end of May (the start of Ramadan).***
GAY MEN IN CHECHNYA NEED OUR HELP NOW
If you’re an author who would like to get involved, please sign up at Authors & Publishers for LGBT Chechens. There, you can also find answers to frequently asked questions about donating a percentage of royalties, educating readers, the charitable organizations that are helping out LGBT Chechens, and more.
If you are a reader who would like to learn more about the situation in Chechnya and how to help — including how to make a direct donation to a designated charity, buy a book from a participating author, or support the auction — please visit Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens. You’ll find more information, as well as links and graphics you can add to your own blog, social media, or your website.
Jodi Payne is an author of gay romance and erotic romance and can be found at jodipayne.net.
* Chechen Authorities Arresting and Killing Gay Men, Russian Paper Says, New York Times April 1, 2017
** Nikki Haley: U.S. ‘disturbed’ by gay Chechnya arrests, Washington Blade, April 17, 2017
*** Chechnya’s president: I will eliminate the gay community by the start of Ramadan, Pink News, April 21, 2017