MONDAY, APRIL 23RD, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
VOICES4 TO STAGE A DEMONSTRATION TO DEMANDING ACTION AROUND THE QUEER PURGES IN
CHECHNYA ONE YEAR AFTER NEWS OF THE VIOLENCE BROKE.
NEW YORK —Voices4, a non-violent and direct action advocacy group, will stage a demonstration Saturday, April 28 th , at 12PM, in Columbus Circle. We will highlight the inaction of the international community since reports of wrongful detention, torture and extrajudicial killings in Chechnya first surfaced over a year ago . We are demonstrating to amplify awareness of these human rights violations and to demand an official investigation by a third party into these allegations. Sister protests in the Netherlands will be held the same week as those in New York, also
demanding an investigation into the disappearance of queer Chechen pop star Zelimkhan Bakaev, whose whereabouts remain unknown after his detention in August.
In April o f 2017, Novaya Gazeta reported that gay men were being persecuted at the hands of Chechen authorities. Since then, we have learned that over 100 people have been evacuated by the Russian LGBT Network, dozens of whom reported illegal detention, torture, and extortion at the hands of law enforcement and Chechen officials, and that authorities are encouraging Chechen families to participate in honor killings of LGBTQ+ relatives. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has denied these claims not by condemning the allegations, but by claiming that there are no gay people in Chechnya.
Chechnya is a semi-autonomous republic within the Russian Federation, and the Kremlin has granted Kadyrov free range to control Chechen citizens by any means, including violence, in exchange for his loyalty to the Kremlin. Despite the international acceptance of the validity of these reports of violence, a spokesperson for Vladimir Putin has affirmed Kadyrov’s assertions.
It has been a year since reports of the these human rights violations were first reported and corroborated, and both the U.S. government and the international community have failed to take any measurable action. There has only been one official investigation, a purportedly thorough report completed by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT). The Russian government has the sole authority to release this report, but they have refused to do so, claiming that the delegation found “no confirmation of extrajudicial executions/punishments or torture.” Independent journalists and human rights networks have found overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and the CPT denies that they failed to find evidence.
Voices4 demands the following:
1) An immediate release of the CPT report by the Russian Government. Public access to the report will a) corroborate or contradict the Russian Ministry’s statement that “the CPT’s delegation found no confirmation of extrajudicial executions/punishments or torture.” b) Present the need for additional, more unrestricted investigations via the UN, EU, or European Council to take place.
2) A third party investigation into these allegations conducted by an international governing body with the authority to bring charges against the Chechen authorities, such as the European Court of Human Rights. We also reiterate our previous call for an investigation into the disappearance of Zelimkhan Bakaev.
3) We demand that the Chechen authorities responsible for the reported atrocities be brought to justice.