On April 29, 2017 CBC News Manitoba reported: A community hub for LGBT people in Winnipeg is urging world leaders, including the United Nations and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to intervene in the persecution of gay men in Chechnya.On Saturday, Winnipeg’s Rainbow Resource Centre is hosting a letter- and email-writing campaign to push for action after reports of the Russian republic detaining, torturing and killing gay and bisexual men.
“These people don’t have weeks. They don’t have months,” said Bradley West, a community organizer for the event. “They don’t have any resources. They don’t have family support. In fact, many of them were released to their family to be murdered,” he said.
Canada calls purported killings of gay men in Chechnya ‘reprehensible,’ calls for Russia probeReports from the area say between 100 and 200 men were rounded up and taken to prisons described as “concentration camps,” and at least three were killed there.
Bradley West, a community organizer for the event, speaks to the crowd gathered for a letter- and email-writing campaign to push for action after reports of Chechnya detaining, torturing and killing gay and bisexual men.
West said that as a Jewish man, the reports were particularly terrifying to him.”I was stunned. I couldn’t believe that this was happening again, that we were watching a government targeting its citizens based on a piece of their identity again,” he said.
West said at first there was a feeling of helplessness because the injustices were happening so far away, but he decided he needed to act. Along with other members of the Winnipeg LGBT community, West organized Saturday’s campaign to raise awareness locally and help pressure the federal government to act.
Its goal is also to let gay people in Chechnya know they are not alone and “this is not happening in silence,” he said.”We see them. We know who they are. That they are not alone and that we see them and we see what is happening, and we will speak out against it in whatever way we can,” he said.
For Rainbow Resource Centre education program coordinator Muhammad Ahsan, the reports coming out of Chechnya, which is a predominantly Muslim country, were horrific but also stoked worries of Islamophobia from the international community.
“Having a gay family member is assumed to be a bad name to the whole extended family so there are some fears of honour killings as well. Myself, coming from a Muslim family, for me it has effects that are longer for the family,” Ahsan said.”But not all the Muslim-identified individuals in Canada associate with any of these extremist elements.”