On April 28, 2017 CBC News reported: The torture and imprisonment of dozens of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya is an emergency of “unprecedented magnitude” that requires an escalated response from Western leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Human Rights Watch says.
“Canada has a great moral position on these issues,” said Kyle Knight, a LGBT program researcher at the New York-based global rights watchdog.
While Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland issued a statement earlier in April calling on Russia to investigate reports of human rights abuses in its Chechen region, Knight said Trudeau himself needs to speak out about the “clear campaign” by local police and security forces, targeting gay and bisexual men.
Human Rights Watch workers have interviewed LGBT people who have escaped Chechnya and verified the original claims of abuse reported by Novaya Gazeta, a Russian independent newspaper, Knight said.
Human Rights Watch believes up to 200 men were rounded up, put in “informal and unlawful detention centres,” tortured and humiliated, starting in late February. The group also believes at least three men have died — two from in-custody torture and one from a “so-called honour killing” by his family. “When they’re returned by the security forces to their families, their families are encouraged to kill them,” Knight said.”
Here you have torture survivors who have physical scars, and the worst part of it for them is that they know it is very, very far from over,” he said. “The people who are closest to them, the people they live with, the people they’ve grown up with, are the ones who are now being told to turn on them and continue this abuse over time.”
The orders are widely believed to be coming directly from Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, although he has denied the persecution is happening. A spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the Kremlin has no reason to doubt Kadyrov, as no one has publicly come out as a victim yet.